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***How to Access Emergency Food Assistance During COVID-19 Mitigation***
The PA Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Food Assistance offers the following guidance regarding how to access emergency food  assistance if you are experiencing food insecurity for any reason related to COVID-19.
Learn more here

Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) – ALICE in Centre County
ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county, sometimes referred to as the working poor.
Learn more here

TEFAP-Best Practices to Minimize Food Waste
TEFAP State agencies and eligible recipient agencies work to feed those in need in part by facilitating the donation of food that may otherwise go to waste.
Learn more here

Family Meals Matter
Family meals offer benefits for health, nutrition, and family life.
Learn More Here


News & Notes

Welcome to this special edition of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) e-letter! We are pleased to devote this issue to informing you of the exciting changes to the CSFP Food Package that will be implemented in November 2019. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has worked with our CSFP state and local agency partners and with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to plan and deliver improvements that will benefit those who participate in this monthly food package program. The improvements better align with https://www.choosemyplate.gov/">MyPlate recommendations and allow CSFP providers to offer more variety and flexibility within each food package category. Some of the changes you will see include:

  • Double the amount of vegetables 
  • More protein, including plant-based proteins such as canned beans and lentils
  • Changing some foods to pack sizes that are more appropriate for small households and allow participants to receive a greater variety of foods
  • Changes that allow all food to be distributed on a monthly basis

View the CSFP Food Package Monthly Distribution Rates Effective November 1, 2019 to see all the details of what the food package categories and offerings will look like with these enhancements.

Please keep reading and click on the hyperlinks throughout this edition to learn more about the changes and resources available to help you prepare for the transition. 


This photo shows what a sample CSFP food package could look like when the changes go into effect in November 2019.

USDA Highlights Opportunities for
Producers and Vendors

Apples, Grapes, Oranges, Pork, Fluid Milk and more

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2018 -- Earlier this week, a new USDA Foods vendor delivered 2,000 gallons of fresh milk to the D.C. Capital Area Food Bank. The delivery was one of many taking place at food banks across the country resulting from purchases made by the USDA to provide market support to the dairy industry.

USDA Foods are a variety of U.S.-produced and processed agricultural products the department regularly purchases to encourage consumption of domestic agricultural products and provide nutritious domestic food to nutrition assistance programs.

Dairy Maid, the milk processing company in Frederick, Maryland, that delivered the milk, is one of 12 new vendors selling fluid milk to USDA. But the agency needs more. By the end of Fiscal Year 2018, USDA had purchased more than $20 million worth of milk and has been approved to purchase additional $10 million in 2019.

“To successfully supply nutrition programs around the country with a perishable product like fluid milk, we need to find more of those local farmers who can make last mile deliveries,” said USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach.

In addition to these purchases, USDA is buying products under the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, its arm of USDA’s three-pronged trade mitigation program, to help farmers impacted by unfair trade practices. Commodities being purchased include apples, blueberries, cranberry products, dried plums, grapes and pork. USDA began issuing solicitations for the purchases in early October and expect to purchase other products throughout 2019.

USDA will distribute these commodities through the Food and Nutrition Service’s safety net of nutrition assistance programs. The majority of the foods distributed will be provided to states for use in the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

“Through TEFAP, we distributed $567 million worth of 100 percent domestically grown foods in FY18,” said Brandon Lipps, USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This nutritious food was delivered to organizations like this one in an effort to help our neighbors when they need it most.”

“While USDA regularly buys food for a number of uses, the extra purchases this fiscal year will be substantial,” said Ibach. “We encourage all interested farmers, ranchers and processors to participate.”

The following table highlights some of the purchases that will occur throughout the fiscal year.


Dollar Amount


Up to $93,395,000


Up to $48,211,000


Up to $55,590,000


Up to $558,815,000

For a complete list of purchase activity, visit the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Solicitations and Awards page. Subscribe to CPP’s email list to stay current on information about these and other upcoming bids.

Learn more about becoming an approved vendor:

  • How to Become an Approved Vendor (PDF, 82 KB)
  • Opportunities to Sell to USDA (PDF, 299 KB)
  • How the Process Works (PDF, 82 KB)
  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“USDA staff are ready to help farmers and ranchers understand the procurement process to ensure American farmers have the opportunity to find some relief while the Administration works to level the playing field for American products in international markets,” said Ibach.

Since 1935, USDA has directly purchased farm goods under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment to encourage consumption of domestic agricultural products. AMS and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) work closely to determine need and distribute products to state agencies that participate in USDA nutrition assistance programs, as well as exploring other outlets for the distribution of products, as needed.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.


Learn How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half, With or Without Coupons

Here are just a few of our favorite grocery saving tips to get your started:

SavingTips Rule: "If it's not on sale, it doesn't go in the cart!"

Save Money on Frozen Foods

Frozen pie crusts are a great convenience, but you'll save quite a bit by making your own at home.  And they'll taste better too!

Save Money on Juices
Water down your children's juice cups with 1/3 - 1/2 water. Not only does this save money, but it also saves the amount of grams of sugar going into our children, and on their teeth!

Save Money on Pet Supplies
I buy large cans of dog food which I halve for 2 feedings. Stores sell 12 cans for around $7 which is better than paying $1 a can.

Save Money on Canned Foods
Buy FRESH grocery items instead of canned, when in season.

Save Money on Produce
If you buy a large bag of produce (instead of individual produce items), and the bag contains one or more bruised or spoiled items, remove the damaged produce as soon as you get home.  One spoiled item can affect the rest of the bag if it's not removed soon

Save Money on Meats
The very best time to buy ham is before or after the holidays, they are always on sale!  After preparing a large ham for one meal, simply divide the leftovers into family size portions and freeze.

Save Money on Sodas
Of course the best way to save money on sodas is to start drinking water instead, it's also much healthier. If you can't cut the soda habit completely, try just cutting your family's consumption in half.  That will help. Sales for these products vary from week to week, but I have noticed when Coke products are on sale Pepsi products are not, and vice versa.  So, either stock up when your brand of choice is on sale or switch back and forth depending on the sale.  At our local stores, a 2-liter name brand soda on sale may cost about .99 cents, while a 2-liter not on sale may cost up to $1.79.

More Tips

  • Many grocery stores are offering great deals during the holidays, some are even giving away food, or cash! Read the paper every week for your local deals, or if you don’t subscribe to the newspaper, pick up the free ad flyers at the store and take it home so you’ll have time to look it over really good before shopping.
  • When you're visiting the Grocery site, grocerysavingtips.com, you'll be able to read hundreds of our free tips on saving money at the grocery store and cut your food bill in half, with or without coupons!
  • Compare prices! I like to buy whatever’s on sale at one store, then a few days later when we need more milk anyways, I go to a different store and get their best deals.  It’s a great money-saver!
  • Store brands are great when making casseroles and side dishes… no one will even notice!
  • Cook your turkey in a large Reynolds cooking bag and you won’t need to buy an expensive Butterball, any brand of Turkey should turn out great!
  • Stock up while everything’s on sale, just an extra can or box here and there…


Helping Hands Article, by Sharon McDonald, featured in the CDT.

When it comes to food safety in our home, knowing and doing are often two different things! A recent report from the Food Safety and Inspection Service and U. S. Department of Agriculture indicates that consumers (you and me) need to work on improving our food handling practices.

The problem areas identified included not using a thermometer to check the final cooked temperature of foods, improper handwashing and cross contamination. Let us look at the importance of each of these from a food safety perspective.

The only sure way to know that meat is properly cooked is to use a thermometer to check the final temperature. Cooking foods to the correct temperature will destroy harmful bacteria that may be present. Feel and color of the meat are not indicators that the food has reached the correct temperature. For example, ground meat that is old may prematurely brown during the cooking process appearing done but in reality has not reached the final internal temperature of 160°F needed to destroy E. coli bacteria.

While we all know how to wash our hands, test yourself to see if you actually take 20 seconds to wash your hands before handling foods. Using the proper procedure is important too in order to effectively remove dirt and germs that may be on our hands. Start by wetting your hands with warm water, apply soap and work up a good lather, then scrub away for 10 to 15 second, especially between your fingers and back of your hands, then rinse and dry with a paper towel. If you are honest, most times you are probably not taking this amount of time.

Finally, when it comes to cross contamination everyone is pretty good at keeping raw meat separate from foods that are ready to eat in the refrigerator. However, what about touching these foods then touching cabinet or refrigerator door handles, spice containers, faucets or even your phone! The study indicates we do not think as much about preventing cross contamination of these items and as a result, bacteria are easily spread even when we may have not handled raw products.

So during National Food Safety month, do your part to prevent foodborne illness by checking the final cooked temperature of foods with a thermometer, wash hands properly and prevent cross contamination. Just because you have never had a foodborne illness, does not mean it cannot happen!

For more information on food safety visit our website at https://extension.psu.edu/