USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: August 2018

USDA Foods from Farm to Plate

Featured Food: Canned Peaches

Sweet Heat Salsa, featuring diced peaches

It’s summertime and summer fruits are in their peak season, including peaches. USDA Foods supports American peach farmers by purchasing millions of pounds of peaches annually to help fill school meal trays and family dinner plates all over the country!

While peaches are refreshing on their own, there are many creative ways to include canned peaches as part of a colorful, healthy plate. A recent USDA blog provides recipe ideas for including peaches in grilled cheese and chicken salad sandwiches, as well as including them in a refreshing summer cooler, or using them as a topping for whole grain waffles. Peaches can also be a great topping for pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, or salads.

Another creative way to use peaches is as a sweet addition to salsa, as shown in the photo above of Sweet Heat Salsa, featuring USDA Foods canned diced peaches (material code 100220), USDA Foods low-sodium canned salsa (material code 100330), fresh jalapeno, fresh diced onions, and cilantro. Sweet Heat Salsa was one of the five recipes featured at the USDA Foods preconference session at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference in July.

Think about all the different ways peaches can contribute to your plate this summer and help boost your fruit intake. Nutritious and delicious!

News & Notes

Southeast Regional Junior Chef Competition Highlights Recipes with Locally Grown and USDA Foods

By Samantha Benjamin-Kirk, Southeast Regional Farm to School Lead, Southeast Regional Office, Food and Nutrition Service

School cafeterias across the nation receive hundreds of deliveries of USDA Foods -- nutritious ingredients grown and produced by American farmers -- each year. School nutrition directors strive to utilize as many USDA Foods as they can in their school menus to enhance cost efficiency and menu compliance. USDA Foods are diverse in nature: from beef to beets, children are offered a variety of heathy food options during the school day. While school nutrition directors have many different tools to help them utilize USDA Foods that appeal to a child’s palate, the Southeast region has come up with a “win win” concept for both staff and students.

On May 10, 2018, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee held the first ever Southeast Regional Junior Chef Competition at Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky. Students worked with school nutrition staff to develop a recipe that meets the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) nutrition standards, includes at least two locally grown state-specific ingredients, includes at least one USDA Foods item, and is taste-tested by students. Student chefs quickly learned that planning and producing a nutritious menu for school meals is not easy. Maxwell High School of Technology from Gwinnett County, Georgia, won first place with their Bowl’d Farm Fresh Burrito Bowl. The student chefs successfully incorporated USDA Foods brown rice, black beans, tomato paste, corn, and diced chicken into a winning recipe that was nutritious, delicious, and appealing to their peers! 

Southeast Regional Junior Chef Competition dishes
Pictured are the dishes from the seven state teams participating in the Southeast Regional Junior Chef Competition.

BMI Update: Progress on FY 2018 Pilots

Business Management Improvement (BMI) pilot projects from several process areas are underway for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The latest status on BMI projects is summarized below:

1. Demand Planning/Forecasting: The team is considering State and local stakeholders, products and product groups, and a technology solution for the project scope. After learning about demand planning concepts and the capabilities of SAP Integrated Business Planning software, the team is now identifying tools available to support a pilot for the various stakeholder groups. 

2. Product Lifecycle Management: This improvement effort was successfully completed. The project to create specifications for new and reformulated products identified as the USDA Foods priorities for FY 2018 adopted the project management and monitoring templates.

3. FOB Origin Procurement/Transportation: Product and transportation contracts were successfully awarded for Phase I, with the first delivery to a multi-food warehouse completed in July. An additional six loads will be delivered by the end of the fiscal year. Planning for the Phase II pilot started in June 2018. 

4. Supplier Management: Key Performance Indicators (KPI) have been identified for supplier and program monitoring. The team is determining what WBSCM modifications will be needed to capture new or supplement existing data elements for reporting. 

5. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): EDI transactions for Purchase Orders, Acknowledgements, and Purchase Order Modification have been mapped for the pilot. An acquisition for EDI translation and transmission services is targeted for this fiscal year.

Any questions or comments about the BMI may be directed to

Resource Roundup

USDA Foods State of Origin: Fiscal Year 2016 Report Released

Each year, USDA compiles the data for approximately 2 billion dollars in purchases made for the USDA Foods programs and publishes the State of Origin Report. Since all purchases for USDA Foods are 100% domestic, it can be useful for States and participants to know which purchases made by USDA are also supporting their State or Regional economy and agricultural producers. As we like to say, everything we buy is local to someone!

The State of Origin Report for Fiscal Year 2016 was recently released and provides a summary of the purchase data from October 2015 to September 2016. Anyone interested in more specific information can also utilize the State of Origin data, which is a detailed report broken down by State, that shows the specific products, quantities, and value of items purchased through USDA Foods. Any questions about the data can be sent to

State of Origin map

Program Spotlight

CSFP Comes to Seminole Nation of Oklahoma!

On June 1, 2018, the Seminole Nation Commodity Supplemental Food Program began distributing USDA Foods under the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a monthly food package program serving income-eligible seniors age 60 or over, from their facility located at Mekusukey Mission, near Seminole, Oklahoma. The location is a perfect fit as it already provides nutrition services through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Under FDPIR, food packages are distributed to eligible participants using a grocery center concept that provides participants the opportunity to shop and make their own selections. This model was incorporated into the administration of CSFP as well. A CSFP staff member provides orientation to new participants using a shopping list as they review the food items displayed on grocery-style shelving. Participants are also able to view the items prior to making their selection and can ask any questions about the food items during this time. Since the launch, participants have been excited about the program and the shopping experience. The launch of CSFP at Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has brought new faces to the facility and the opportunity to reach more people in need of nutrition services.

Seminole Nation CSFP
Seminole Nation CSFP staff Melissa Mack reviews the food options with participant William Hack. Photo Courtesy of Seminole Nation CSFP.

Out & About

Wisconsin FDPIR Site Visits

USDA staff recently had the opportunity to visit three Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) in northern Wisconsin: the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians. During their visit, staff learned about the opportunities and challenges facing Tribes when providing nutrition education to FDPIR participants, and they participated in a nutrition education class conducted by Lac du Flambeau and funded through the Fiscal Year 2017 FDPIR Nutrition Education grant.

In serving their communities, FDPIR staff often fill multiple roles, and these ITOs are no exception. For example, Red Cliff also administers the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals while school is not in session. Staff observed one such meal during their visit. Red Cliff also partners with a local SNAP-Ed program to provide nutrition education to children along with their lunch. During this particular lunch, children learned about how traditional foods fit into USDA’s MyPlate model, and they also tried a healthy salsa recipe using blueberries, a traditional food for many Midwestern Tribes.

USDA appreciated the opportunity to learn more about these programs in person and would like to thank staff at Lac du Flambeau, Red Cliff, and Bad River for hosting the visit!

Red Cliff SFSP nutrition education
The Red Cliff SFSP lunch included nutrition education through a partnership with a local SNAP-Ed program. Children sampled a healthy salsa recipe using blueberries, a traditional food, and took home colorful educational materials.

Conference Clips

United Fresh Convention: Fresh Festival for School Foodservice

On June 26, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) National Office and Midwest Regional Office representatives along with our partners at DoD Defense Logistics Agency participated in the Fresh Festival for School Foodservice at the United Fresh Convention in Chicago. At our two tables, one for the USDA DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and one for Team Nutrition, we shared information about these USDA programs and answered attendees’ questions. This annual event is part of the United Fresh Produce Association conference and expo.

The goal of the event is to facilitate connections between school foodservice professionals and the fresh produce industry. Developing and fostering these relationships is important so both parties understand each other’s business. The event provides an opportunity for school foodservice staff to talk to produce vendors and growers about the K-12 world and allows produce vendors to explain the fresh produce supply chain. Attendees share best practices on sourcing and serving fresh produce in schools, providing an opportunity to increase children’s access to fresh produce and help them build healthy lifelong habits.


In July, USDA Foods staff attended the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference. We enjoyed the opportunity to see and interact with many of our stakeholders through our USDA Foods booth and dynamic education sessions, including our preconference session featuring a USDA Foods demo, “What’s New With USDA Foods,” “Using USDA Resources to Support Local Purchases,” and “USDA Hot Topics” session featuring information on the USDA Foods Processing Rule. We received great feedback from school districts through our white board survey questions and informal discussions to help us guide the future direction of USDA Foods. We will continue working to add new products and improve existing products to better meet the needs of school districts across the country. If you missed us at the conference, feel free to email us your ideas for new products you would like to see available through USDA Foods at 

USDA Foods booth at SNA conference

Policy Corner

School Year 2019 USDA Foods Per Meal Rate

The national average value of USDA Foods assistance (or “per meal rate”) is published each year in the Federal Register. The notice announcing the new School Year (SY) 2019 rate to the public was published here on July 27, 2018. For SY 2019, the per meal rate is increasing to 23.50 cents, a one quarter of a cent increase from the SY 2018 rate of 23.25 cents. FNS uses this national average value to calculate State entitlement values for each lunch served in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and for each lunch and supper served in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Each year, the rate is adjusted based on published Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index data.

The overall USDA Foods entitlement amount each State receives must not be less than 12% of the total value of expenditures supporting the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), in accordance with section 6(c)(1)(B) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. The USDA Foods entitlement amount is adjusted every year, if necessary, to meet the 12% requirement. The per meal rate is calculated in accordance with the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and then an effective rate is established by adding funding to comply with the 12% requirement. Accordingly, the SY 2019 NSLP per meal rate was calculated as 23.50 cents but the SY 2019 NSLP effective rate, which includes the additional legislatively mandated 12% funds, will be 34.25 cents, which is an increase from the previously estimated effective rate posted in the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system at 33.50 cents per meal. The CACFP per meal rate is 23.50 cents per meal.

Complaint Resolution Pipeline

Food Recalls

Every food recall is different. These events unfold quickly and require timely, accurate communication and action to prevent illness or injury. A food recall is initiated when a food manufacturer or distributer has a reason to believe that a food may result in a foodborne illness or injury. A food manufacturer or distributor usually initiates the recall voluntarily to take foods off the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are the regulatory agencies responsible for protecting and promoting public health through inspection and enforcement activities in food processing establishments.

The most frequent reasons for food recalls are undeclared allergens (milk is the number one undeclared allergen), pathogen contamination (Listeria, E.coli, and Salmonella are most common), and extraneous or foreign material (including metal, plastic, wood, or insect body parts). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, and FSIS collaborate closely at the Federal level to promote food safety. State and local health departments, the food industry, and consumers also play essential roles in food safety. During a multistate foodborne disease outbreak, CDC provides a vital link between the public health partners to detect the outbreak, define its size and extent, and identify the source.

Sign up at these hyperlinks to receive recall notices from both FDA and FSIS

This way you will receive the specific product identification information provided by the manufacturer so you can quickly and accurately know if you have any of the recalled product. Product information will include: product and brand name; company name and contact information; case markings; establishment number for meat, poultry, or egg products; product markings (can codes, lot numbers, product pack date or use by date) and photo of product markings and label.

If you have recalled product, immediately isolate and label the recalled product so it is not used. Both FDA and FSIS conduct recall effectiveness checks to make sure the manufacturer effectively notified customers and that recalled product was properly disposed of or returned to the manufacturer. Recalls require that actions be taken quickly to prevent illness or injury.

To assist you in being better prepared to respond to a USDA Foods recall, the FNS Office of Food Safety developed two checklists, one for State Distributing Agencies and one for Recipient Agencies, available here

Technology Synopsis

Along with the latest quarterly enhancement and monthly maintenance releases, several components of the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system were also recently upgraded to the most current SAP patch levels, including the Portal, Business Intelligence (reporting), interfacing system components, and an upgraded document library.

While the WBSCM upgrade is primarily technical, it is expected to:

  • Improve performance and usability of the Portal user interface
  • Provide a new modern appearance and improved layout of the WBSCM document library
  • Improve response time for training materials to load

A short WBSCM Portal Navigation Video Tutorial, which can be accessed from the announcement bar on the Welcome page, provides an overview of the new look and feel for WBSCM and the updated document library.

WBSCM Portal Navigation Tutorial

To access the WBSCM document library, navigate to Help -> Training -> and then drill down through the different types of training materials. Most documents will display as HTML by default, with options to save as PDF or other format(s).

WBSCM Document Library - Work Instruction

As a reminder, a summary of all changes introduced to WBSCM each month, including the impacted user groups and links to related training materials, are provided in the Release Notes, which can be accessed via Help -> Training -> Release Notes.

For additional assistance, 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!

October 2-5: Third Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition in Prior Lake, Minnesota, hosted by Seeds of Native Health.

December 3-6: USDA/State Agency Meeting (Child Nutrition Programs) in Arlington, Virginia.

December 6-7: USDA Foods Training for State Distributing Agencies (USDA Foods in Schools) in Arlington, Virginia.

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!