School Lunch Program
Loss Claim Procedures
Prevention of USDA Food Losses
The Bureau of Food Distribution (BFD)in Tallahassee administers the USDA commodity program in the State of Florida. Providing these commodities ( to our 67 county school lunch facilities, approximately 160 other school programs including residential child care (both state and private), approximately 70 soup kitchens, and about 80 food banks/pantries, and some 40 or so charitable institutions) is primarily handled through our two contracted commercial distributors. The responsibility of the BFD is not only to periodically monitor programs for compliance and accountability but to also maintain records of all food losses. This is accomplished the use of loss reports to be completed by each recipient agency (RA). Each RA must complete a loss report for any single loss incident where the value exceeds $100.00 or more. In 1996 there were 102 reported losses with a value of $128, 875.00, in 1997 there were 116 reported losses with a value of $ 85,664.00. As you can see these amounts are high, most of the losses are due to three major factors:
Freezer failure USDA requires that all temperatures ( frozen, refrigerated, special dry, and regular dry) be read and recorded daily including weekends, holidays, spring break, etc.. Most programs do not check temperatures on weekends and holidays. Normally this may not create a problem, however during an extended period of three or four days if a refrigeration unit stops working a loss will occur.
Some preventative measures that can be taken to prevent some of the loses of this type would include:
- Insure that regular maintenance is provided to all refrigeration equipment.
- Make sure that all seals on refrigeration are properly maintained or replaced as needed. This will keep food stored in the unit maintain proper temperature for a longer time.
- Check equipment after electrical storm or power failure.
- Have an alternate method of storage refrigerated trailers may be rented, or move products to another location that you have previously arranged in a time of need.
Underutilization mainly caused by an over supply or an item that is not liked. Generally most items have a shelf life of at least one year proved they are stored at optimum requirements. These losses can be avoided entirely if a few steps are taken to prevent a loss:
- Use greater care on usage projection when completing the annual offer and acceptance.
- Utilize the "Notice of Allocation" when it is received. This form is a great tool for planning. Look at the allocation notice and start planning on future purchases and menu planning, this way you can compliment your planned arrival with your purchases.
- Once you receive your arrival notice plan to remove from the commercial distributor as soon as possible no later than 60 days or storage costs will be incurred.
- Periodically monitor both on hand and warehouse inventory levels to insure proper usage within a reasonable time.
- For what ever reason ( product not liked, over stocked etc.) Call this office and request a transfer before commodities become unusable.
Infestation can occur to any grain product at any time. This year macaroni and spaghetti have been a real problem for this and other states. Again there are certain things that may prevent loss or at least reduce the loss.
- It is extremely important that all products are closely inspected upon receipt. Look at the packaging, check inside several cartons. It is your responsibility to determine the condition of all products received before signing for any products. If there are any discrepancies make a note on the bill-of-lading and have the driver sign as well.
- All grain products must be stored at least at the special dry temperature which is 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit or colder as space in the coolers and freezers permit.
- Again utilize as soon as possible, and do not maintain excessive inventories.
These are only a few of the ways to help prevent losses. The food distribution staff is always available to assist in training, planning, inspection of facilities etc. Our goal is and has been to be pro-active it is now the time for all agencies to join us and give all your comments and suggestions.
For further assistance, please contact:
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Bureau of Food Distribution
Mayo Bldg, 2nd Floor
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, Florida, 32399-0800