Nutrition Program Bulletin – Week of December 16, 2019

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Nutrition Program Bulletin – Week of December 16, 2019

Each section contains updates relevant to those nutrition programs. You can jump to the section you're interested in by clicking the link.

All Child Nutrition Programs

Happy Winter Holidays Snowman Image

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! 

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Nutrition, Health, and Youth Development Division would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. 

Please note that our offices will be closed on Wednesday, December 25, 2019, and Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

We look forward to working with you in 2020!

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And Justice for All Posters

We recently received the updated And Justice For All Posters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Over the next several weeks, these will be sent out to sponsors that previously placed an order. Our staff will also bring posters with them to distribute when they do site visits.

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Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

CACFP Basic Training

CACFP Basic Training is an in-person workshop that provides basic information on the Child and Adult Care Food Program. A certificate of attendance will be provided after the workshop. MDE staff will facilitate five of these four-hour workshops in the following locations around the state:

View the CACFP Basics Training page for more details about this series of trainings.

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Food Distribution Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods Product Reformulation: 100362 Refried Beans

USDA has been working to improve the flavor profile of their refried beans (100362) based on stakeholder feedback. As part of the process, they have defined the required ingredients to ensure a more consistent flavor profile across vendors and to better align with commercial practices. USDA evaluated samples in their test kitchen to ensure all of the products were acceptable and yielded a similar result. 

The new formulation of the refried beans is being distributed to schools in School Year 2020. While the product is improved, they still have the same material code and description. However, the vendor label may look a little different under this new formulation. In particular, one vendor is now labeling their refried beans as “spicy” based on the addition of some flavoring ingredients. Please be assured that these products are still the same versatile USDA Foods you are used to receiving, with a slight makeover. In particular, the refried beans will now include some tomato, garlic, and jalapeño flavor, but the product still has a mild flavor profile.

If school districts have feedback about the new formulations, please feel free to reach out to USDA at

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School Nutrition Programs (SNP)

Procurement Webinar Series

A Procurement Basics webinar series will be offered every other Thursday at 2 p.m. starting in January. The first session held on January 9, 2020, and subsequent webinars with be held through April. Each webinar will be approximately 90 minutes in length.

The series will cover procurement requirements for federal grant programs focusing on school nutrition program operations. The target audience for this webinar series is school nutrition program directors/managers, school business officers and purchasing officers. Learn more and register: Procurement Basics Webinar Series.

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Direct Certification via MARSS Error Warnings

Public school nutrition programs must work closely with the district/school Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System (MARSS) Coordinator to ensure that students identified via specific MARSS reporting error warnings receive free meal benefits as quickly as possible. There are three specific error warnings related to direct certification:

#364 – Student may be free eligible via Direct Certification

  • If “DHS Applicant Name” is displayed, this means the student's household qualifies for SNAP or MFIP and free meal benefits must be extended to all students in the household.
  • If “DNS Foster Program” is displayed, only the individual student is identified as a foster child, and thus must receive free meal benefits. Meal benefits must not be extended to other household students based on the MARSS error warning.

#431 – Student eligible for free meals (Migrant Identification). Only the student is eligible for free meal benefits. Meal benefits must not be extended to the household based on the MARSS error warning.

#388 – Student eligible for free meals (Homeless Identification). Only the student is eligible for free meal benefits. Meal benefits must not be extended to the household based on the MARSS error warning.

Nutrition programs must keep a copy of the error warning report as documentation for free meal benefits. Once the error is corrected in MARSS, the error warning is eliminated.

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Upcoming Tuesdays @ 2 Webinars

Listed below are the upcoming Tuesdays @ 2 webinar trainings for SNP sponsors:

  • Procuring a Food Service Management Contract (December 17, 2019, at 2 p.m.)
  • Procuring a Distributor for Regular and Net Off Invoice (NOI) USDA Foods (January 7, 2020, at 2 p.m.)
  • Have you done your Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment? (January 14, 2020, at 2 p.m.)

Learn more and register: Tuesdays @ 2 webinars.

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