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State Fiscal Year 2009 Forms / Reports
SFY2009 Elligibility/Poverty Level updated 3-3-2008
SFY2009 Distribution Site Manual updated 3-3-2008 Site Eligibility Requirements
THE PHYSICAL DISTRIBUTION SITE
The distribution site is the location where donated food is actually distributed to needy persons. Distribution sites for the EFP commodities are either soup kitchens, homeless shelters or food pantries. Private residences may not be used to store or distribute USDA commodities.
Distribution sites in Illinois may have their commodities delivered by one of three methods:
- � The distribution site picks up the commodities at the Foodbank with a truck and personnel furnished by the distribution site.
- � Foodbank�s personnel deliver the product to the distribution sites in trucks furnished by the Foodbank.
- � The distribution site truck and personnel meet the Foodbank delivery truck at an agreed upon place and time to receive commodities.
- � Foodbanks must account for federal commodities released to sites. The foodbank must create and use an invoice that replaces the Release Form DHS 3122, which records the signature of the site representative receiving the USDA commodities. It also records the amount of each product received by the site, the site name, date of delivery and address. Foodbanks are responsible for proper maintenance of release records.
Distribution sites may have regular volunteers or paid staff who unload the truck. Sites may have income-eligible recipients who are willing to volunteer to unload. However, unloading the truck cannot be made a requirement for clients to receive the commodities, nor can it be used as an in-kind agreement for volunteers to receive more EFP products than they would normally receive.
Whoever unloads the product must be made aware of the importance of counting the product as the shipment is received. Accurate accounting of USDA commodities will be impossible if an exact count is not made when the product is unloaded. The necessity of checking for damaged or spoiled product must also be stressed.
Soup kitchens and food pantries must all provide proper storage facilities for the commodities received from a Foodbank. All sites must comply with the same storage and handling regulations that apply to Foodbanks. Those regulations include any directives from USDA, DHS, Illinois Department of Public Health and the local public health department with jurisdiction where the site is located. Foodbanks and distribution sites may be held financially liable for lost product due to damage, theft or spoilage due to improper storage and handling. The Foodbank is responsible for assuring that the distribution sites under contract provide proper handling, care and storage of donated food including USDA commodities.
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The Foodbank must publicize within its service area the regularly scheduled days and times of operation of its sites. EFP provides signs that specify days and hours of operation. This sign is required to be posted at all EFP distribution sites. The distribution of posters, pamphlets, and newsletters throughout the geographic service area is a recommended form of public outreach. Placing notices in local newspapers to make potential recipients aware of the availability of commodities is another acceptable method of public outreach. Public Service Announcements should be provided to local radio and television stations. Activities by the local distribution sites do not relieve the Foodbanks of responsibility for conducting public outreach activities. Word of mouth may not be used as the sole or primary method of conducting public outreach
Issue rates were abolished through consensus of the Provider Forum on October 30, 2001.
PRODUCT QUALITY LIABILITY
Foodbanks and distribution sites will not be held liable for product quality except in cases of negligence on their part. Foodbanks and distribution sites will be held liable if they knowingly distribute commodities that are spoiled, especially if the spoilage occurred because of negligence on their part.
Many distribution sites in Illinois are staffed completely by volunteers. For that reason, insurance is not required of the distribution sites. However, sites are still obligated to conduct their operations in a responsible manner to keep losses at a minimum. Distribution sites must carefully follow approved storage and handling procedures. Distribution sites should use the First In/First Out (FIFO) inventory control system.
The DHS requires that Foodbanks explain all losses, including those experienced by their distribution sites. Foodbanks must balance on a monthly basis the amount of commodities they received and the amount distributed. DHS is required by federal regulations to pursue recovery of the value of all food lost due to fraud negligence if the value of the food at or above $100.The Foodbank is financially responsible for all losses even when the distribution site causes the loss. Losses under $100 will not be disregarded if there is evidence of fraud or negligence. DHS should be contacted immediately by telephone of any loss at or exceeding $100.
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Food pantries in Illinois operate in a variety of ways. Their hours vary widely, depending upon the level of need in the area where they are located and the resources available to the organization operating the pantry. Food pantries must be government agencies or non-profit organizations with tax-exempt status. The physical facility must be safe and appropriate for storing and distributing donated food.
Larger pantries may be open 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Some pantries operate only on Saturdays to serve those whose jobs prevent them from being served during the week. Small pantries, operating on limited budgets, may operate only one afternoon a week. The facility must, however, keep regular weekly hours for a minimum of two hours to be considered a pantry unless specifically approved by DHS for a rural exemption. Food pantries may not require appointments for service. To be considered open, a food pantry must serve eligible persons from the community who walk in and request food.
A pantry must be open to the general community. The population served by a food pantry may not be restricted by factors other than program eligibility. Pantries contracted to participate in the EFP may not restrict an eligible client�s access to food to more than 30 days from the last date the client received food.
COMMODITIES ARE SUPPLEMENTAL
Whatever its size, the food pantry must have the resources to provide clients with privately donated food in addition to USDA commodities. USDA commodities must be used as a supplement to privately donated food. Privately donated food includes food received from Foodbanks, food directly donated to the pantry or food purchased with monetary donations. USDA food commodities may not be distributed separately from other food given out by the food pantry.
USDA and DHS accept self-attestation as a means of documenting eligibility. No other documentation is needed to meet EFP requirements. Needy persons receiving USDA commodities from a food pantry must sign the client signature sheet (IL 444-4511) to attest that they meet Income Eligibility Guidelines and the residency requirement. Income eligibility for EFP is 130% of the annual federal poverty guidelines based on household size. The only other allowable factor of eligibility is residence in the State of Illinois.
Under provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, only information that is necessary for the proper performance of the program, including whether the information has practical utility, may be collected by agencies administering a federal program. Since USDA and the State of Illinois allow self-attestation as a means of establishing eligibility for the Emergency Food Program, collection of documents such as Social Security Cards, Drivers Licenses or paycheck receipts, is not necessary and is prohibited.
Food pantries may request an exception to the documentation policy when the documentation is required for receipt of grant from another governmental agency or a private foundation. To receive an exception, the food pantry should submit the written reporting requirements from the governmental agency or private foundation requiring the documentation. Both the foodbank and DHS will review the request to determine the necessity for the exception and the least intrusive method of complying with the reporting requirement. If approved by both the foodbank and DHS, a written exception specifying the types and frequency of documentation activities will be issued. If,
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for example, a food pantry must provide annual demographic data on its caseload, and if an annual survey is an allowable method of collecting the data, the exception will specify that the documentation be collected once a year as required by the funding source.
The practice of requiring EFP clients to obtain written referrals from external agencies is not permissible. Although the practice is intended to control program abuse, DHS finds it to be ineffective and unnecessarily burdensome to clients. Furthermore, the practice violates proper program eligibility procedures by allowing non-contracted entities to determine access to the program through the application of standards that are not known, approved, or monitored by USDA and DHS.
THE RURAL EXEMPTION
DHS encourages the development of innovative designs to meet the emergency needs of residents of rural areas. Special operating procedures and limited hours of operation may be approved to allow the effective provision of emergency food in sparsely populated rural areas. The Foodbank must complete and submit the Annual Request for Rural Exemption which is available on the website: www.illinoisfoodbank.org on the �Forms� page.
Soup kitchens serve prepared meals, in a congregate setting, without charge, to homeless, transient, and other needy persons. The meals must be served on a regular basis, at minimum two hours per week, in a clean, secure environment as a regular part of services. A soup kitchen must be a governmental agency or non-profit organization with tax-exempt status. The physical facility must be safe and appropriate for storing and distributing donated food. Soup kitchens that are not homeless shelters must conduct public outreach and serve all needy persons. Soup kitchens may not be restricted to special populations such as elderly or children. Homeless Shelters are considered Soup Kitchens under the EFP definitions but may restrict service to clients residing in the shelter. All homeless shelters funded by the DHS Bureau of Homeless Services and Supportive Housing are eligible to receive USDA food commodities under the soup kitchen category. Residential treatment facilities do not qualify for EFP.
It is assumed anyone eating at a soup kitchen is income eligible and no certification or documentation of eligibility may be requested. The "And Justice For All" poster must be in plain view of all participants.
STORAGE AND RECORDS
Soup kitchens must abide by the storage standards set by USDA, DHS, IDPH and the local health department. Soup kitchens are not allowed to collect signatures and household size from clients. Only the actual number of meals served by the Soup Kitchen is required to be reported to the Foodbank on a monthly basis.
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FOOD HANDLING AND MEAL PREPARATION
Special food handling requirements for a soup kitchen include:
- � use of non-porous countertops, preferably stainless steel;
- � disinfecting all countertops and utensils. A cold water bleach solution may be used;
- � use of new or properly sanitized reusable food storage containers. Plastic bags may not be reused;
- � all food handlers must wash hands, wear disposable plastic gloves and cover their hair with hair nets;
- � no smoking is allowed in food preparation area;
- � shirt pockets must be emptied and jewelry that could fall into the food must not be worn; and
- � the area must be free of any type of insect, dust or other foreign matter that could contaminate the food
- � other local public health ordinances, as applicable.
Foodbanks should contact local public health officials for more information on proper food handling, preparation procedures and standards for soup kitchens.
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USDA regulations require that states set standards for determining the eligibility of households to receive USDA commodities through the EFP. The standards must be based on income and household size. The federal regulations allow state standards to include a requirement that the household live in the state, but the length of residency in the state cannot be considered.
In Illinois, DHS has set the income eligibility standard at 130% of federal poverty levels for households. DHS also requires residency in the state. Although no other eligibility requirements may be imposed on individuals seeking food assistance through the EFP, Foodbanks may only establish geographic service areas for its pantries with the approval of DHS.
Homeless people are presumed to be residents of the State. DHS allows the use of the address of the nearest DHS office for homeless people accessing food pantries.
Foodbanks must ensure that Food Pantries display the following posters:
- � Food Pantry Operating Schedule laminated poster- The poster lists the days of the week and hours of the day that the food pantry is open to the public.
- � Income Eligibility Guidelines - The poster lists the maximum allowable monthly gross income varying household sizes may receive and still be eligible to receive commodities.
- � Notice To Program Participants - The poster lists the conditions the recipient agrees to upon signing the signature sheet.
- � And Justice For All - The poster instructs the recipient on what action to take in case of discrimination.
- � Prohibited Activities � The poster lists unallowable activities in the food pantries.
- � Soup kitchens are required to display only And Justice For All and the Soup Kitchen Operating Schedule laminated poster.
WHAT IS INCOME?
Monthly household gross income must be at or below the standards listed on the Income Eligibility poster. All sources of income for each and every member of the household must be included. Household gross income includes all wages, pensions, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement, income from rental or leased property, interest or dividends from savings, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds and income from all other sources. That may include, but is not limited to, strike benefits, unemployment compensation, alimony, veteran's benefits and regular insurance or annuity payments.
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Homebound or eligible clients unable to access the pantry may be served by proxy. The DHS Proxy Form must be used. (See Exhibit I).
The proxy allows a third party to pick up food for the client. The proxy form identifies the third party and documents that person�s authorization for acting on the client�s behalf. When a proxy is used, these rules must be followed:
The client must fill out a new proxy form for every issuance.
- � The client must enter the name of person he/she designates as his/her "proxy."
- � The client must sign the proxy form. Only original signatures are valid.
- � The designated proxy must sign the proxy form at the pantry at the time of pick up.
Proxy forms must be attached to signature sheets submitted to the foodbank for the distribution month. Clients served by proxy should not also be entered on the signature sheet.
DISTRIBUTION SITE REPORTS TO FOODBANKS
Pantries and soup kitchens are responsible for reporting to the Foodbank the number of households, individuals and meals served during each month and their hours of operation. The EFP Distribution Site Monthly Report may be used for this purpose. Completed original client signature sheets (IL 444-4511, IL 444-4512) and proxy forms (IL 444-4510) must also be submitted to the Foodbank each month.
RETENTION OF RECORDS
All records must be kept for five (5) years from the close of the federal fiscal year to which they pertain. The Foodbank is responsible for the proper maintenance and retention of all records, including those records required of the distribution sites. Records must be made available for inspection by USDA, DHS and their designees.
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SALE OF COMMODITIES
USDA and DHS require agencies to give commodities to eligible households at no charge. Selling commodities, or trading commodities for services, is strictly prohibited. Violators are subject to Federal and/or State prosecution.
Political activity in any form is prohibited during commodities distribution. Candidates may not make political appearances at distributions. Campaign literature and signs must not be evident. Bags or boxes advertising candidates or political causes may not be used to carry commodities, and staff may not wear buttons or politically related apparel.
SOLICITATION AND MEMBERSHIP PROHIBITED
Clients may not be solicited for contributions and may not be required to attend or join the organization distributing food. This includes participation in religious services. Eligibility for commodities is based solely on income eligibility and state residency.
COMMODITIES AS COMPENSATION
Volunteers and staff are entitled to federal food only if they meet eligibility requirements. Eligible volunteers and staff may not be given extra food to encourage their help.
Discrimination is prohibited. The "And Justice For All" poster must be posted in clear view of all EFP clients. Reports of alleged discrimination should be mailed to the USDA address listed on the And Justice For All poster. The DHS Complaint Form (Exhibit H) should also be completed and submitted to DHS.
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The potential impact the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may have on non-profit organizations has been a concern for many agencies. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are covered under Title III of the ADA as "places of public accommodation". Religious organizations are exempt, but places of public accommodation that lease or occupy donated space from a religious organization remain subject to ADA. Accordingly, a distribution site that occupies leased or donated space in a church, synagogue or temple or facilities owned by a church, synagogue or temple, is subject to the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Removal of architectural and structural barriers such as stairs or narrow doorways in existing buildings is required when such removal is "readily achievable", that is when the modifications can be easily accomplished without great difficulty or expense. A variety of factors are considered in making this determination, including the overall financial resources of the organization and the extent of the action required. Also included is the impact of the action on the continued operation of the facility.
If the expense of removing the structural barriers will prove too costly for the distribution site, other ways to comply with ADA still exist. The installation of a buzzer or intercom at a stairway would still allow the client access to the services of the site. The recruitment of additional volunteers to provide home delivery through use of the proxy system is acceptable. The "readily achievable" removal of barriers might include installing grab bars, ramping a few steps, adding braille markings to existing signs, rearranging tables or chairs, and making other modest adjustments.
The primary goal should be to allow access to the services provided by the site if access to the facilities cannot be achieved. For information regarding a survey of your facilities and what could be done to make a site more accessible, contact the nearest Center for Independent Living. (See Illinois Department of Human Services website at: www.dhs.state.il.us for a list of the Independent Living Centers.)