CNFD Home New and Hot Items Training Programs Programs Partners About the CNFD Program FNP System Portal
Frequently Asked Questions About School Commodities
What are Commodities?
Commodities are American produced agricultural products. The USDA purchases food from producers and processors to strengthen American agriculture and improve the nutritional health of citizens participating in food programs.
How does USDA know what kinds of commodities schools want?
USDA offers to each state a dollar limit (entitlement) that can be used to order certain commodities. The state orders the commodities that are preferred by ND schools.
What is PAL?
PAL is planned assistance level. It is the dollar value of commodities to which you are entitled. PAL is calculated by multiplying your October Average Daily Participation (ADP) times the per meal commodity value (currently 17 ¼ cents) times 180 days.
How do I order commodities?
School commodities are ordered monthly through the FNP online system. The link is on the homepage of Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Programs.
What is a preference survey?
A preference survey is a list of available commodities. An email is sent electronically to the Commodity Customer to notify them a survey is available and can be completed online. Two surveys are offered in April and May of the previous school year for August and September deliveries in the upcoming school year. Each survey contains Type A foods (meats/fruits/vegetables), Type B foods (grains/oils/nuts), Type G foods (bonus items) and Type P foods (processed foods). The schedule for preference survey dates is available in Commodity Users Resources under Food Distribution.
What is a bonus commodity?
A bonus commodity IS NOT deducted from your PAL. USDA determines what items are bonuses in response to market conditions. USDA also determines when these items are available and how many cases are allocated to North Dakota.
Will I receive exactly what I indicate on the monthly preference surveys?
Yes. The new monthly ordering system will allow DPI to only offer items that are currently in the warehouse or items that will be arriving before deliveries are made. This new process will eliminate most cancellations of items.
However, USDA can delay shipment or cancel orders at any time. This would mean that some changes might be required on your order. Commodity customers will be notified when any changes need to be made to the monthly order.
Will I be able to go over my PAL on the preference survey?
The FNP system will allow schools to go over their PAL under certain situations as long as the overall state entitlement is not exceeded. If your needs slightly exceed your PAL, enter the quantity you need and we will adjust downward if necessary.
I received a product and students don’t like it. Can I return it?
Our policy is that you arrange to transfer a product to another school/agency.
What is a processed commodity?
Commodities are processed to make them easier to serve and more acceptable to students. USDA contracts the processing of some hard-to-use products. Currently, North Dakota purchases bulk chicken, American sliced and mozzarella cheese, egg and peanut butter to be processed at a variety of vendors throughout the United States. Processed commodities are Type P on the preference surveys.
There is a PAL deduction for the amount of USDA commodity in each case of a processed item. For example, on the preference survey, if you order one case of chicken nuggets, your PAL would be deducted the dollar amount of USDA chicken used to make that one case of finished chicken nuggets.
How do we pay for processed commodities?
There is a processing charge per case that the school must pay when they receive the invoice at the end of the month from DPI. The processing charge DOES NOT come off your PAL. The school is responsible for paying any processing charges within 30 days of receipt of invoice.
A complete list of processed items and their nutritional information and processing charge is located on our website under Food Distribution and under Resources.
Who pays the warehouse and delivery charges?
DPI pays warehouse and delivery charges using the school’s state match funds. When all of the state match funds have been used, your school will see a balance or total due to Booth Warehouse on your monthly invoice.
How often and where will I get deliveries?
Deliveries are made monthly to one location per district. The schedule is set by the contractor, Booth Delivery Service. Your school is assigned a delivery week A, B, or C. Small schools are encouraged to consolidate deliveries (example: every other month) to save the minimum drop charge. Simply decline a survey during the particular month you do not wish to receive commodities.
What if there is a shortage or damaged product?
Count and inspect all items before the driver leaves the premises. The driver will give you a “commodity receipt” listing all the items that are being delivered. Note any shortage or damaged products on the signature portion, sign and return the receipt to the driver. COUNTING AND INSPECTING AFTER THE DRIVER LEAVES DOES NOT MAKE A VALID CLAIM.
If a product has hidden damage (inside a pallet), call our office and give us the details. These products can be replaced.
How do I count and inspect when the truck arrives during serving?
The supervisor should appoint and train at least one other person to count, inspect and store the commodities. The driver operates on a tight schedule, and deliveries could arrive during serving time. The driver brings the foods to your delivery area, but is not responsible for putting food in the cooler or freezer.