The Lunch Line

department of education

The Lunch Line

February 2018


New Look for the New Year!

The “Lunch Line” has been on a hiatus for the past several months while we work on identifying the most effective delivery method. We will continue with “construction” of this project throughout 2018 to ensure that all school food service professionals receive the important regulatory information, educational opportunities and marketing tips that help us do our job with excellence and pleasure. The new Lunch Line comes in two formats; this digital version that you can browse through on your computer and select just the topics that are of interest to you, or the PDF version on the School Nutrition Newsletter page, that you can share with staff. Let me know how you like the updated formats! 

Deb Lukkonen signature

Deb Lukkonen, Supervisor
School Nutrition Programs

USDA Memos and Communication

USDA Food and Product Dates

USDA has reissued a memorandum to clarify policies and procedures for the storage and transportation of USDA Foods as related to product end dates, including “first in, first out” procedures. This memo is available on the USDA website at FD-107 Donated Food Storage, Distribution, and Product Dating (Revised).

Updated Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns

Effective October 1, 2017, school sponsors who claim meals and snacks for preschool children under the School Nutrition Programs are required to follow the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal pattern rules and regulations. USDA recently released a memo, SP 30-2017, which outlines a new transition period for the CACFP meal patterns. Read more about this update.

Meal Pattern Flexibilities

USDA announced in November that school food service professionals could count on some permanent flexibilities in meal pattern requirements. The changes reflect USDA’s commitment to develop forward-thinking strategies to ensure school nutrition standards are both healthful and practical. The interim final rule is effective through school year 2018-19. It includes flexibilities on milk fat, grains, and sodium. Read more about the interim final rule.

Buying Groups

This USDA memo revises USDA policy and provides questions and answers about purchasing goods using cooperative services, agents, and third-party services. View USDA memo.

USDA Seeks Public Input on Child Nutrition Food Crediting

In a Federal Register Notice published on December 14, 2017, USDA announced an information collection on food crediting for Child Nutrition Programs. Child Nutrition Programs must reflect the meal patterns and nutrition standards set forth by the USDA in order to claim Federal reimbursement, and crediting is the process designed by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to specify how individual food items contribute to those meal patterns. The Request for Information is intended to help FNS gather feedback from stakeholders on how the crediting system can be improved and to offer customer service to those operating and benefitting from the Child Nutrition Programs. Electronic comments are preferred and may be submitted to the Federal Register by February 12, 2018. More information can be found in USDA’s press release as well.

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What's the Latest?

Breakfast Survey

Have you implemented breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, or second chance breakfast? Have you incorporated marketing strategies to promote your school breakfast program? We want to hear about it!

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)’s Team Nutrition is developing a new resource for the School Breakfast Program. It will highlight successful school breakfast programs and include contact information for networking purposes. Stories are being collected online through SurveyGizmo until February 28. Please share you story with us by accessing the School Breakfast Expert Ideas Survey.

Sharing Tables

Share tables are a great way to reduce food waste; however, it is important to follow all local, state, and federal food safety regulations. The best way to ensure this is to discuss your options with your local health sanitarian. Ask what foods are allowed on a share table, which items can be re-served at the next meal service, and what safety precautions must be in place. For more information and best practices, see USDA memo SP 41-2016. More information will be posted on MDE’s website soon—stay tuned!

Net Off Invoice

The Minnesota Rebate Program is being phased out. Allocated 2017-18 rebate pounds should be used as planned and the 2017-18 rebate claims should be submitted through CLiCS by the deadline of July 31, 2018. Effective school year 2018-19, NOI will be utilized. All of our Rebate Program processors will be offering product on the NOI program.  For more information, please contact the Food Distribution Program.

Commercially Packaged Fruit Cups

Fruit cups (fruit chunks + liquid) must be 4.2 ounces by weight and applesauce cups must be 4.5 ounces by weight; any amount less does not credit as a full ½ cup of fruit. As a reminder, a student’s tray must have at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable on it in order to claim the meal for reimbursement. This applies to both breakfast and lunch. Be sure to include these product specifications when bidding fruit cups and/or applesauce cups.


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Nutrition in the News

Shelley Whyte in Fuel Up  Play 60

Shelley Whyte Wins Trip to Super Bowl

The National Football League Legacy Committee honored Shelley Whyte, supervisor at North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale ISD, with Super Bowl tickets! Shelley was recognized by the Minnesota Dairy Council for her outstanding work supporting school nutrition. Shelley is shown with students from the Maplewood Middle School.

I heart School Breakfast

School Breakfast

Mark your calendar for National School Breakfast Week, March 5-9! This year’s theme, “I Heart School Breakfast,” encourages parents, students, and school officials to get social over school breakfast. Speaking a language kids understand, we’re ready to show-and-tell all the benefits of a healthy school breakfast.  For helpful resources, check out the School Nutrition Association’s website

Chefs Move to Schools!
How to Put on a Junior Chef Competition!

Student culinary competitions are becoming a fun and popular learning tool used by many schools to engage students in creating healthy, appealing meals. To simplify the planning process and assist schools that may be interested in hosting a student cooking competition, the Institute of Child Nutrition, in conjunction with the USDA, has developed the Chefs Move to Schools: Junior Chef Competition toolkit. Read how to host a competition event at your school!

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Professional Development

HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms – February 9

Join us for a half-day training to learn how to get recognition (and receive funding!) for your health and wellness efforts by applying for the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) initiative.

This training, held on February 9, walks through the HUSSC: SL application criteria, provides tips and tricks for applying, and even builds in time for school health team members to work on the application during the workshop. Presenters include Gail Anderson, Minnesota Department of Education; Kelly Kunkel, University of Minnesota Extension and Ann Kisch, Minnesota Action for Healthy Kids. Upon registration, a pre-training worksheet will be sent. The training, which recommended for school staff, district staff, teachers, parents and community members, is offered free of charge and lunch will be served! Contact Ann Kisch with meal accommodation requests (

When:  Friday, February 9, 2018, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Where:  Sartell, MN
To register:  Visit HealthierUS Workshop Website

Schoolyard Gardens Conference – March 2

The Schoolyard Garden Conference is taking place at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen on March 2, 2018, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Get the opportunity to learn from more than 20 different speakers, including presentations from eight different schools across Minnesota. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran school gardener, join the group in March and learn innovative strategies for building, engaging and sustaining diverse learners in a thriving schoolyard garden. Register for the Schoolyard Gardens Conference.

ACDA Conference – April 29-May 2

Join your colleagues for 4 days of exciting speakers and training sessions in downtown Minneapolis at the Marriott City Center for the American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) conference. This event is truly a national conference that is unique among other association events. Naturally, there are the usual educational and networking opportunities at an ACDA conference. But rather than being an event where manufacturers and processors, brokers and distributors showcase their products and services, this conference convenes in the spirit of cooperation among its members, with everyone focusing on how to strengthen USDA Food Distribution Programs. View ACDA conference information. 

9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference – April 25-27

Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, and convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. View the Farm to Cafeteria Conference registration page to find more information about rates and agenda. New this year are Scholarship Applications.

“Tuesdays at 2” Webinar Series Continues

A variety of topics will be offered during this year’s Tuesdays@2 webinar series. All webinars begin at 2 p.m. and will be 30-60 minutes, unless otherwise noted. Registration and session information will be posted on the Training: School Nutrition Programs webpage.

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New Resources to Try

Make Today a Try-Day (USDA)

Make Today a Try-Day – New Stickers from Team Nutrition

Team Nutrition is pleased to offer Make Today a Try-Day! Stickers now through March 2018, or while supplies last. Celebrate healthy habits and encourage students to try new vegetables and fruits. Use these two-inch Try-Day! Stickers to make tasting new foods fun. Stickers come in rolls of 200 and there is a limit of six rolls (1,200 stickers) per sponsor.

To order, visit the Team Nutrition Promotions website.

Username: TNUser1

Password: Tryday2018

Health and Wellness Resource Guide for Fruits and Vegetables

A new culmination of education and marketing resources about fruits and vegetables is now available! The Health and Wellness Resource Guide for Fruits & Vegetables includes new nutrition facts panels, health and nutrient content claims, social media posts, and healthy recipes with photos for 41 top produce items, with enhanced information about artichokes, potatoes, pears, and 100 percent Concord Grape Juice. Download the resource guide (note, document is 28 MG, 175 pages and will be updated twice annually, including additional fruits and vegetables).

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