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Food and Nutrition Programs

USDA Foods — Availability Update, Brown Box FCFS, Bonus DoD Funds, Processing Pounds, Warehouse Contracts, & Assessment Fees

To:School Food Authorities (SFAs)
From:Robert Leshin, Director
Office for Food and Nutrition Programs
Date:July 6, 2022

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Office for Food and Nutrition Programs (FNP) is providing an update for USDA Foods for School Year (SY) 2022-2023.

As the supply chain issues and unexpected cancellations of orders continue, our office remains committed to making sure we communicate out. Please refer to the "USDA Foods Communication" tab in the USDA Foods Orders section of the DESE Security Portal for important and time sensitive information such as brown box sales order and delivery status, bonus products, DoD vendor and product information, product recalls and more.

Force shipment

All Brown Box orders, including traditional and First Come First Serve (FCFS), must be delivered within thirty (30) days. Any product that has not been delivered within 30 days will be automatically delivered to your district on your next scheduled delivery.

Brown Box

The state account has an abundance of USDA Brown Box Foods stored in both warehouses. To keep product moving, we will be implementing a new FCFS procedure. The FCFS will be available on the security portal located in the USDA Food Orders section starting on July 6, 2022 and will remain open and ongoing for the duration of the school year. It will only close to export Recipient Agencies (RAs) orders and update quantities and will reopen upon completion. This will allow for all RAs to be aware of product availability in the state account. The 30-day delivery period remains in effect.

Department of Defense Fresh Produce (DoD Fresh)

Our office has been awarded an additional $3.5 million in bonus Department of Defense Fresh Produce (DoD Fresh) funds to be used between July 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022, or until funds are depleted. All RAs enrolled in DoD will have access to these funds; the funds will automatically be drawn down from the GOVT funds in the state account when placing orders in FFAVORS; district's entitlement will not be affected.


As a continued practice from prior school years, all unused processing pounds in RA accounts will be swept on June 30, 2022; USDA regulations do not allow for carryover pounds. As the new year begins, tour office must be made aware of all bid awards if the processor differs from the original where pounds were allocated to. For example: if an RA allocated 5,000 pounds to X-processor for SY 22-23 but the commercial bid was awarded to Y-processor, the RA needs to contact Belinda Wilson at DESE immediately to reallocate those pounds.


For SY 22-23, the contracts were awarded to two current warehouses for the period of July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. Additionally, our office was unable to secure an acceptable response to the state transportation contract bid.

*There will be a 15-case minimum with HPC and 20-cases with GFS. Orders that fall below the minimum case requirement will not be delivered by either warehouse.

Assessment Fees

With many districts trying to fill their freezer with scarce commercial products, space and utilization of USDA foods were considerably reduced, especially at the start of the school year. This resulted in a tremendous amount of USDA Brown Box Foods being stored in both warehouses, who then charge DESE for every case of food that is sitting idle in storage. Throughout SY 21-22, DESE paid an exorbitant amount of storage fees, with higher contract rates.

Because of the excessive storage and fees during SY 21-22, Assessment Fees remain in effect again for SY 22-23. Effective July 1, 2022 $3.40 per case will be charged for frozen, cold, and dry products shipped to you from the state contracted warehouses. Assessment fees will automatically be deducted from monthly claim reimbursements. Please note that State Assessment Fees are not charged when utilizing entitlement for DoD Fresh. Additionally, State Assessment Fees are not charged for Processed products as all distribution of these products are handled by your commercial distributor. In both instances, no storage charges to the state are incurred for these products.

USDA Foods, Brown Box and Processed Foods specifically, need to be set up for delivery as soon as they arrive in the warehouses with a maximum of 30-days; the warehouses are not to be thought of or used as a storage facility.

Food Distribution Contact Information:

For any additional questions around USDA Foods, please connect with a member of the team:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Last Updated: July 6, 2022

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.