Howard P. Davis, 68, a retired deputy administrator with the Department of Agriculture's food and nutrition service, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Alexandria.

Mr. Davis joined Agriculture in 1941 as an analyst. He helped direct the department's food distribution operations, including food stamp programs and the ntional school lunch program. At his retirement in 1973, he was the department's top food program exscutive.

During World War II, he served as a Navy officer with the Pacific Fleet. In 1945, he was assigned to the Office of Military Government in Berlin and represented the U.S. as an alternate on the Four-Power Committee for feeding Berlin.

After the war he returned to Agriculture and helped launch its national school lunch program in 1946.

Mr. Davis was born in Dayton, Ohio. He earned a bachelor's degree from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio in 1932 and, in 1936, earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Cincinnati.

In 1962, he received the Department of Agriculture's Distinguished Service Award.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth, of the home in Arlington; two daughters, Katherine Richardson, of McLean, and Judith Johnson, also of Arlington, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Cole Cancer Research Fund, Department of Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center.