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

Spotlight on Schools

Policy Corner

Publication of the Final Rule: Revisions and Clarifications in Requirements for the Processing of Donated Foods

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled, Revisions and Clarifications in Requirements for the Processing of Donated Foods. This rule is effective July 2, 2018. The rule revises and clarifies requirements for the processing of USDA Foods at 7 CFR 250.30 in order to: incorporate successful processing options tested in demonstration projects into the regulations, ensure accountability for USDA Foods provided for processing, increase program efficiency and integrity, and support vendor and State operability. The rule requires multi-State processors to enter into National Processing Agreements to process USDA Foods into end products, permits processors to substitute commercially purchased beef and pork of U.S. origin and of equal or better quality for beef and pork received through USDA Foods, and streamlines and modernizes oversight of inventories of USDA Foods at processors. The rule also revises regulatory provisions in plain language to make them easier to read and understand. You can find the rule on the Federal Register at 83 FR 18913

FNS will be hosting webinars to discuss the rule’s provisions for Regional Offices and State Agencies on June 21 (watch your inbox for registration details) and for all stakeholders, including Processors and Distributors, on June 28. Click here to register for the June 28 webinar.

Featured Food

Unbreaded Grilled Chicken Fillet

Chicken Fillet

You asked and USDA answered! We have heard from States and school districts requesting an unbreaded grilled chicken product that can be used on sandwiches, since these are popular items for school meals. We worked hard to develop a formulation that meets the needs of school districts, in collaboration with our industry partners, and are excited to share that the first trucks of this product are expected to be delivered beginning in July! Some of you may remember that we asked for your feedback about your top priorities for this product at our booth at the School Nutrition Association Conference in July 2017. We are happy to report that based on this feedback, we developed a fillet that is made with whole muscle, has grill marks, and can be used in sandwiches or as an entrée portion. Each fillet credits as 2 meat/meat alternates. If you are interested in more information about the product, please check out our USDA Foods New Product Preview Sheets. We look forward to hearing your feedback about this product or other items you would like to see at:  

On the Horizon

Visit the USDA Foods Booth and Sessions at the SNA Conference in July!

We look forward to interacting with our stakeholders at the upcoming School Nutrition Association (SNA) Annual National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 9-12. As in years past, the USDA Foods team will host an exhibit hall booth that will feature our new program banners, the school year 2019 Foods Available List, and daily poll questions to get feedback from program partners. In addition, USDA Foods staff will be participating in a pre-conference session where we will talk about how to utilize USDA Foods in menus and demonstrate some food preparation techniques during the session. We will also be leading breakout sessions called “What’s New with USDA Foods?” and “Using USDA Resources to Support Successful Implementation of Local Purchasing Policies” to share information, tips, and best practices with our program partners. We hope to see you there!

Conference Clips

ACDA Session Synopsis: What do your school districts really want?

Is your ordering system more like - "Polly, want a cracker?" or "Polly, take a cracker?"

At the American Commodity Distribution Association’s annual conference the first week of May, USDA partnered with State Distributing Agencies (SDA) to present "Best Practices for Demand Driven Programs." The session encouraged States to review their policies and procedures to ensure successful USDA Foods programs. While there is no gold standard award, getting School Food Authorities (SFA) the products they want, in the volume they want, when they want it, and where they want it would definitely warrant one. While States must balance many factors when placing orders, including the minimum quantity requirements, USDA encourages States to stay in regular communication with school districts throughout the year to ensure that everyone knows what has been ordered, in what quantities, and in what time periods.

This session highlighted different techniques that States use to offer USDA Foods throughout the year. Rosie Krueger of the Vermont Agency of Education shared how she surveys districts to better understand what products they want, and Bob Sitton of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discussed how he organizes taste tests for SFAs to try specific USDA Foods products.

The underlying message of the session focused on the need for clear and constant communication at all levels, from USDA to SDA and SDA to SFA. We are here to help you design a system that will meet the unique needs of your state.

In addition to this session, USDA staff presented in breakout sessions on nearly 20 different topics ranging from disaster preparedness to further processing to local purchasing in school meals. The ACDA conference was, once again this year, an excellent venue to interact with USDA Foods stakeholders and provide technical assistance.

Resource Roundup

Food Buying Guide mobile app

The Food Buying Guide Goes Digital!

Ever wonder how many servings are in a five pound bag of frozen broccoli (USDA Foods material code 110473) or how many students a ten pound box of whole grain-rich macaroni (USDA Foods material code 110501) will feed? The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs can help! It is constantly updated with current information in one central place to help you buy the right amount and the appropriate type of food for your program. It also helps determine the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements. This tool can help you estimate your USDA Foods needs. When designing menus and entering orders for USDA Foods, make sure to have this resource handy.

The new Food Buying Guide Mobile App provides quick access to yield information to help you make quick purchasing decisions from your mobile device. It allows you to easily search and compare food yields, see the meal components, and create and save your favorite foods lists. Try creating a list with your favorite USDA Foods products!

Download the FBG Mobile App, currently available on the iOs and Android platforms, today! Check out the live demonstration, "Food Buying Guide Goes Digital," on YouTube!

In Case You Missed It: Market Basket Webinar Recording

Market Basket Webinar

The recording of the February 22 webinar, "Market Basket Analysis When Procuring Program Goods and Modifying Contracted for Product Lists," is available on the FNS YouTube channel. The webinar, hosted by Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Programs, covered policy guidance FD-144, SP04-2018, SFSP 01-2018, CACFP 04-2018, to provide clarity as to how market basket evaluations and contract awards can be compliant with the Federal procurement standards.

New CACFP Standardized Recipes from Team Nutrition

Beef Picadillo

In response to requests from State and local partners for recipes reflecting a variety of cultures, Team Nutrition has released 40 new recipes for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). With inspiration from Central and South America, North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia and Pacific Islands, these recipes are standardized to yield 6, 25, or 50 servings and include information on how each recipe credits toward CACFP meal pattern requirements.

Check out the new CACFP recipes for ideas from Beef Picadillo (pictured left), popular in South America and the Caribbean, to Veggie Mash Up, a traditional Kenyan dish.

Out & About

Southeast Regional Meeting and Royal Food Service Visit


The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Southeast Regional Office hosted its annual School Nutrition and Food Distribution State Agency meeting February 6-8 in Atlanta. More than 30 State Agency directors and staff, representing all eight Southeast Region States, participated in this three-day meeting. Interactive sessions led by FNS SERO and National Office staff included a variety of topics such as Farm to School and the Southeast Region Junior Chef competition, Program Integrity, and the USDA Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (USDA DoD Fresh). Other activities included a three-hour tabletop disaster exercise scenario.

Meeting participants also took a field trip to the Georgia USDA DoD Fresh prime vendor, Royal Food Service (RFS), who distributes produce to school and military facilities in Georgia. While at this facility, participants toured the warehouse and the fresh produce processing facility. The tour guides provided plenty of time for questions about how the company interacts with the school systems they serve throughout the State of Georgia.

Technology Synopsis

A New Look for the WBSCM Help Document Library

A new look is coming to the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) help document library in July 2018! Changes will include user-friendly menus and other improvements. When this upgrade is implemented, WBSCM portal announcements will provide an overview and guidance for navigating the updated help document library. 

As a reminder, materials in the library are regularly updated to correspond to the current best practices, application enhancements, and system requirements to provide convenient solutions to common questions. If you are working with a saved or printed copy, check to see if a newer version is available.

To access the WBSCM document library, navigate to Help -> Training -> and then drill down through the different types of training materials, which include:

  • Work Instructions provide step-by-step guidance for common transactions, organized by role and business function. Work instructions may be viewed as detailed steps with screenshots (Work Instruction), basic steps (Quick Reference), or as an interactive on-screen demo (Simulation).
  • Job Aids are reference documents that are organized into categories for general help, working with reports, and functional area.
  • Release Notes describe any changes, the roles impacted, and links to related training materials that are impacted for quarterly enhancements and monthly maintenance activities in WBSCM.

For additional assistance, contact the WBSCM Service Desk or call (877) 927-2648.

How to Sign Up for the USDA Foods E-Letter


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

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