DoD Fresh Program
DLA Troop Support Subsistence is the worldwide provider of choice for fresh fruits and vegetables to military services and non-DoD customers. The USDA, Food and Nutrition Service and DLA Troop Support Subsistence entered into a partnership by which DLA Troop Support would buy and distribute fresh produce to schools using the commodity entitlement funds set aside by the USDA. DLA Troop Support uses its large-scale buying power to help meet the demand for consistent, weekly deliveries of a wide variety of fresh produce to school cafeterias, central kitchens and/or state distribution centers.
The DoD pilot program started in 1993 with 8 test states (South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Hampshire, Florida, Texas, Maryland and South Carolina), using $3.2 million of Group A entitlement money. The test year 1993-1994 was successful, and it was apparent that growth in the program was limited by the amount of entitlement set aside by the USDA and the states. A $20 million cap was established and more states signed on for the next school year, including Guam, Alaska, and Hawaii. The schools could order any authorized fruit or vegetables from a list of about 150 items, except non-U.S. grown produce, such as bananas. By the end of the second year, the USDA suggested that states could use Section 4&11 reimbursement funds. Bananas could now be bought with the Section 4&11 money.
By the 1997-1998 school year, the program had grown to 38 states, some using the entitlement funds, some using the 4&11 money and some using a combination of both funds. The $20 million cap was spent in full, and the states ordered over $9.5 million using their Section 4&11 funds. The next year, USDA raised the entitlement cap to $25 million, and more states and schools joined the program.
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 contained language that set aside $50 million a year to continue to support schools in all participating states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. The 2008 Farm Bill continued to fund the DoD Fresh Program at current levels. In 2010, USDA lifted the cap amount to allow states greater flexibility in allocating the entitlement they needed to run the program in their states. Subsistence sales reached $133.1M in FY13.
How it Works
DLA Troop Support, located in Philadelphia, uses its diverse network of produce suppliers, mostly small businesses, to distribute produce to participating USDA customers. DLA Troop Support awarded numerous long term contracts to full-line providers who are responsible for all military bases and USDA customers within their awarded zones. The vendor is responsible for the procurement, storage, distribution and invoicing using commercial business practices. Delivery times are established by the vendor and customer largely based on the vendor's routing schedule. Vendors are also strongly encouraged to purchase as much locally-grown produce as seasonally available in the quantity and quality needed to support all customers within that timeframe. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Order/Receipt System, or FFAVORS, catalog will indicate which items are coming from local sources. About 15% of monthly purchases are from local suppliers.
DLA Troop Support pays all vendors for the delivery of the produce to the final destination based on the successful receipt in FFAVORS. Bills for entitlement purchases are sent to and paid for by USDA FNS. Bills for items purchased with Section 4&11 funds are sent directly to the school district, with instructions to submit payment to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Columbus, OH.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Order/Receipt System is the ordering website used by all USDA customers to order their DoD Fresh produce. FFAVORS will provide the actual delivered cost at the time of order, as well as funds tracking. The price you see on the catalog is the price you will be billed. Schools/ITOs can also place a correct receipt after delivery to ensure the vendor invoice and billing are correct. User IDs and passwords are established by each participated on the USDA's eAuthentication website.
School's Expectations of DoD Fresh Program:
- Improve quality and selection of fresh fruits and vegetables for school lunches.
- Receive weekly deliveries to school, kitchen or distribution center.
- Efficient use of entitlement funds.
- Reduce cost of acquiring produce for schools - one-stop shopping.
- Competitive bidding of produce contracts for all zones.
DLA Troop Support Expectation of Schools:
- Inspect produce at delivery and reject poor quality if necessary.
- Store your fresh produce properly.
- Understand the market, full cases are cheaper than smaller pack sizes.
- Communicate with Subsistence rep about problems with deliveries or quality.
- Notify DoD and vendor of school holidays or changes in delivery schedule.
Benefits of DoD Fresh Produce Program:
- DoD leveraged buying power.
- Increased choice, pack size, freshness and weekly deliveries.
- DLA handles fund tracking and vendor payment/reconciliation.
- DLA provides customer service and FFAVORS website ordering system.
- Increased emphasis on locally-grown produce purchases and tracking.