USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: Spotlight on Schools, January 2018

Spotlight on Schools

News & Notes

SY 2018-2019 USDA Foods Available List

On December 15, the School Year (SY) 2018-2019 USDA Foods Available List for Schools and Institutions was published. Each year, USDA works diligently to introduce new products and reformulate items based on feedback from States and school districts. This year, we are pleased to unveil ten new products for ordering in the upcoming school year, including frozen mixed berry cups, frozen mixed vegetables, chicken drumsticks, grilled chicken breast fillets, pre-sliced turkey ham and smoked turkey, egg patty rounds, and white whole wheat flour. In addition to these new items, we added some smaller package size options for products such as raisins, frozen mushrooms, and rolled oats. For more information on the new offerings, view the product preview sheets. At USDA we strive to publish a list of items that is able to meet the unique needs of school districts across the country by closely monitoring trends and adapting our list of offerings to meet the changing needs of school districts. To submit new product ideas or feedback on existing products, email us at USDAFoods@fns.usda.gov.

mixed berry cup, mixed vegetables, and egg patty rounds

Frozen mixed berry cups, frozen mixed vegetables, and egg patty rounds are among the new options available to order for the upcoming school year.


BMI Update: Pilot Project Implementation Planning

USDA is currently defining Business Management Improvement (BMI) pilots that will begin in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 based on process areas identified in the business case and implementation plan documents. USDA is defining pilot scope in terms of duration, products, geographic region, automation or data requirements; stakeholder involvement; and evaluation metrics.

Six process area pilots are being considered:

  1. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) / Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) rationalization
  2. Long term contracting
  3. Forecasting (top-down predictive modeling)
  4. Transportation & FOB Origin purchases
  5. Supplier management
  6. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for supplier data exchange

These pilots were targeted because they can be better defined and more easily managed with existing resources. Some are pre-requisites or supporting activities for additional process area pilots. Work will continue, with the resources available, to include other process area pilots in FY 2019.

Any questions or comments about the BMI may be directed to CP-BPRINFO@ams.usda.gov.


Featured Food

Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet

Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet

One of the new items introduced on the SY 2018-2019 USDA Foods Available List for Schools and Institutions is the Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet (material code 110921). USDA has been working on this product in response to requests from States and school districts for a chicken item that can be used in sandwiches, but this item was formulated so that it can also be used as a center-of-the plate entrée with a sauce or glaze. The product is a made with whole muscle chicken breast product with grill marks on the outside. It has a minimal seasoning profile so that it can be adapted by the local school districts to a variety of menu applications. It credits as 2 meat/meat alternates. 

For more information on the case size, number of cases per truck, and estimated price per case, view the product preview sheet.


Out & About

USDA Foods Tasting Event

Attendees at the December 2017 training for new State Agency staff working with USDA Foods in schools had the opportunity to sample several items on the Foods Available List, including some of the new products for SY 2018-2019, at the USDA Test Kitchen in Washington, DC. 


Resource Roundup

SDA SOPs Make Ordering as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

New Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are available for State Distributing Agencies (SDA). The SOPs are a soup to nuts guide for SDAs on managing USDA Foods for schools. This document covers details of using the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system and highlights information on how to create a demand-driven ordering process.

The first several sections of the SOPs focus on WBSCM and include information on new user registration, available trainings, and reports. One section of the SOPs even details how to tailor WBSCM reports to best suit your needs. In addition to information on WBSCM, this document underscores the importance of creating a request-driven system through forecasting and catalog maintenance. Other sections outline order management, entitlement tracking, and complaint processes.

The SOPs are a one-stop-shop for managing USDA Foods orders for Child Nutrition Programs, and this document is posted on the USDA Foods National Processing Community PartnerWeb site. Look for it under “SDA Resources” on the left navigation bar. SDA staff who are not yet registered for this new PartnerWeb site can email NPA@fns.usda.gov to request a registration form.


Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs

USDA Releases New Recipe Analysis Workbook for the Food Buying Guide!

In October 2017, USDA released a new component for its Interactive Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (FBG), called the Recipe Analysis Workbook (RAW). The interactive FBG provides food yield information for all Child Nutrition Programs, which is critical when program operators are determining the correct amount of food to order for their individual programs. Not only does it help ensure that there is enough food for every participant; it also helps program operators avoid ordering too much food, keeping costs down. The RAW builds on this capability by allowing users to search for creditable ingredients and determine each recipe’s expected meal pattern contributions. Combined, these interactive tools can help save program operators significant amounts of time as they plan meals for their children. For more information, visit the FBG information page.


Complaint Resolution Pipeline

Good inventory management practices can help State Distributing Agencies (SDAs) meet customer demands and minimize costs. Inventory management begins with carefully planning menus and correctly procuring products in quantities needed. Be sure to inspect the items ordered at the time of receipt, document and report any issues, and properly store product. Properly storing food is important to maintain product quality and food safety.

Accurate forecasting, determining the type and quantity of products needed, and considering how USDA Foods fit into the menu are equally important in managing product inventory. Forecasting should be based on menus, program participation, and historical order data. It should account for seasonality of products and shifts in student preferences. To ensure that USDA Foods are distributed in a timely, efficient manner and in optimal condition, proper ordering, inventory management, and storage practices for USDA Foods are necessary.

SDAs and Recipient Agencies (RAs) should consider their anticipated demand (i.e. student participation) and menu to ensure the amount of product they order is distributed to students in optimal condition and that inventory levels for the National School Lunch Program do not exceed amounts needed for a 6-month period. Holding products in inventory is costly. Product sitting in storage facilities requires space, equipment, utilities, and staff time. Depending on the distribution contracts within the state, the RA may even incur fees for product that remains in the warehouse after a designated time period.

SDAs should make sure that all School Food Authorities (SFAs) have the opportunity to provide input, at least annually, in determining the USDA Foods from the full Foods Available List made available to them for ordering. Ordering should be request-driven. An ideal request-driven ordering system would factor in SFA preferences regarding which USDA Foods they receive along with the desired quantities and delivery timeframes. This helps SDAs manage inventory levels, as RAs are more likely to utilize USDA Foods that they have requested.


Practices to help SDAs maintain an efficient inventory management system include: 

1.  Provide efficient, cost-effective distribution of USDA Foods

2.  Protect USDA Foods against theft, spoilage, damage, or other loss

3.  Maintain product at proper temperature and humidity

4.  Meet Federal, State, or local food safety and health requirements

5.  Inspect USDA Foods at the time of delivery and document any issues. Instruct warehouses to “Inspect what they Expect”: inspect product at time of delivery and immediately report any issues.

6.  Maintain a separate inventory record of USDA Foods

7.  Distribute inventory first-in-first-out (FIFO)

8.  Assure timely distribution to eligible RAs to ensure utilization of USDA Foods within 6 months of receipt

9.  Ensure insurance coverage to protect value of USDA Foods

10.  Conduct an annual physical review of USDA Foods inventories at all storage facilities

11.  Reconcile physical and book inventories

12.  Monitor RA usage and transfer USDA Foods to another SFA, if not being utilized

13.  Maintain record of all transfers

14.  Report any USDA Foods losses to Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Regional Offices

15.  FNS monitors FNS 155 Inventory Management Register reports and may require transfer of excessive USDA Foods inventories, in storage or at processors, to other RAs to ensure timely utilization of USDA Foods 


RAs should contact SDAs, and SDAs should contact their FNS Regional Offices with any questions or refer to the following resources for more information:

FD-709-5 (Rev 2): Shipment & Receipt of USDA Foods

FD-107: Donated Food Storage, Distribution, and Product Dating (Revised)

Inventory Management & Tracking Reference Guide

USDA Foods Complaint Procedures

The Complaint Team is available Monday-Friday, 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Email USDAFoodsComplaints@fns.usda.gov or call the USDA Foods Complaint Hotline at 800-446-6991.


Technology Synopsis

New “My Profile” Available in FFAVORS

With the January 2018 release for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Order/Receipt System (FFAVORS), a new My Profile link has been added to the main menu. This will allow all users to review and update their own contact information to ensure they receive communications related to system updates, orders, and any questions or requests for assistance submitted through the FFAVORS application.

My Profile is located at the bottom of the menu on the FFAVORS home page for both Customers and Vendors:

FFAVORS My Profile Link

Vendors can make updates to their email address.

FFAVORS Vendor My Profile Example

Customers can edit their email address as well as phone number, extension, and fax number. 

FFAVORS Customer My Profile Example

Additionally, Customers can opt-in to receive email notification for new USDA DOD Fresh orders or modifications to existing orders to be delivered to their organization. The first option will notify the user when they create or modify orders in FFAVORS. The second option will notify the user when other users create or modify orders. For school users, this includes other users from the same school, authorized district users on behalf of the school, or the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). For district users, this includes other district users, users from any of the schools that are part of the district, or DLA.

Please contact the FFAVORS Help Desk with any questions.


Recent Improvements to the WBSCM User Experience

In addition to addressing performance issues, the most recent Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) releases and the October software upgrade implemented enhanced navigation features and resources to make WBSCM more user-friendly. A summary of these changes is available in the WBSCM document library at Help->Training->Job Aids->General Help->WBSCM Upgrade Summary-October 2017.

Some of the new or enhanced navigation features include:

  • Navigation path (“breadcrumbs”) for the current transaction
  • Navigation buttons on menu bar: Back, Forward, History, and Favorites. History provides links to the 12 most recently accessed transactions. Favorites allows users to create and organize shortcuts to the transactions they use most frequently.
  • Options button (formerly a non-descript icon) now labeled

Additionally, the following resources have been added to improve the user experience with WBSCM:

  • Important news and reminders in on-screen announcement banner
  • New video tutorial available in WBSCM to demonstrate system navigation and point out helpful tools and resources
  • Descriptions and guidance added to the Help tabs

WBSCM Navigation

WBSCM releases are implemented each month, and all users are encouraged to review the latest Release Notes for system changes that impact them. This information can be found in the WBSCM document library at Help->Training->Release Notes->Release Notes.

If you have questions about these changes, contact the WBSCM Service Desk or call (877) 927-2648.


On the Horizon

USDA staff will be participating in these upcoming meetings in 2018. We look forward to the opportunity to meet you and hope to see you there!

March 4-6: School Nutrition Association (SNA) Legislative Action Conference in Washington, DC.

April 29 - May 2: American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) Annual National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


How to Sign Up for the USDA Foods E-Letter

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1. Click here. Or you can go to the Food Distribution website and click on the red envelope on the row of social media icons on the top right of the page.

2. Enter your email address and click "Submit."

3. Check the boxes to select your topic(s) of interest. For these e-letters, scroll down to the Food Distribution category and click the plus sign to the left of the check box to expand the list and view all the topics. Select any of these topics to receive the general e-letter plus the corresponding program-specific e-letter(s) of your choice:

*USDA Foods --> receive all "USDA Foods from Farm to Plate" e-letters

*Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) --> receive "Household Highlights"

*The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) --> receive "Household Highlights"

*Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) --> receive "FDPIR Connection"

*Schools/Child Nutrition Commodity Programs --> receive "Spotlight on Schools"

4. Visit the subscriber preferences page any time you would like to review, add, or delete subscriptions. Questions? Contact USDAFoods@fns.usda.gov.

5. Share the e-letter and new subscriber link with interested colleagues and friends!