USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: Spotlight on Schools

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U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA Foods from Farm to Plate
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Spotlight on Schools, February 2021

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Policy Corner

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School Year 2021-2022 Entitlement Waiver

On January 15, 2021, FNS announced the Opt-In Waiver for School Year 2021-2022 National School Lunch Program USDA Food Entitlement Calculations waiver.  This waiver gives State Distributing Agencies the option to extend the SY 2020-2021 Entitlement Waiver and allows preliminary SY 2021-2022 entitlement values to continue to be based on SY 2018-2019 NSLP participation. All State Distributing Agencies elected to participate in this waiver.   

More information on the Opt-In Waiver for School Year 2021-2022 National School Lunch Program USDA Food Entitlement Calculations waiver can be found here.

News & Notes

Pancake breakfast made from USDA Foods

USDA Foods in Schools Catalogs Open for SY21-22 Orders

It’s the time of year when State agencies and school districts work together to place USDA Foods orders for the upcoming school year, with deliveries beginning in July 2021.  USDA understands that many school districts may be uncertain about their service model or participation for the upcoming school year and have questions about the upcoming USDA Foods order due dates.  USDA works with each industry group to determine how much advance notice they need to produce the food that school districts request.  For some foods, such as seasonal fruits and vegetables, orders for the entire year are needed in the spring so the industry has firm order quantities and knows how much product to plant or package for USDA Foods.  For other foods, such as meat and cheese, USDA purchases product much closer to the time of delivery (e.g. 60 days in advance), so USDA offers order due dates throughout the year to allow States the flexibility to add, cancel or change orders during the year with sufficient notice to USDA. For more information about the order due dates, see the USDA Foods in Schools Ordering Schedule for School Year 2021-2022

It is important to remember that USDA Foods supports domestic growers and processors and these industries need good forecasts to produce enough of the right products to meet the needs of school districts nationwide.  Schools should work with their State agency to see which foods require firm commitments for the entire school year and which products may have flexibility to order later when you have a better sense of what your menu and service model will look like.  State Agency contacts for USDA Foods in Schools can be found here.        

Status Code Added to FFAVORS Catalog Report

With the latest updates to FFAVORS in January 2021, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Order Receipt System (FFAVORS) now includes a status code for each item on the Catalog report. This allows users to identify which products have been added or updated since the previous catalog.

FFAVORS Catalog Report

Users can always check for important news about FFAVORS in the Announcement box on the home page. To view or download the latest version of the manual, click the Help link at the upper right corner of the screen. For assistance with FFAVORS or additional information, please contact the FFAVORS account representative or email the FFAVORS Help Desk.

Webinar Roundup

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Managing USDA Foods for Schools Entitlement, Orders, and Inventories in SY2021-2022 Webinar

The webinar recording Managing USDA Foods for Schools Entitlement, Orders, and Inventories in SY2021-2022 is now available to view on the FNS website.

This webinar provides best practices to help manage USDA Foods in Schools for school year 2021-2022.  Topics include: a review of changes to the Foods Available List, information on USDA Foods entitlement, USDA Foods direct delivered products, the National Processing Program, and USDA Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The webinar discusses actions to assist with managing USDA Foods orders and utilization of USDA Foods inventories.

This webinar is intended for USDA Foods State Distributing Agencies and FNS Regional Offices. Watch it here!

Complaints Corner

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USDA DoD Fresh 

USDA DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a healthy option States and schools have to utilize their USDA Foods entitlement.  This school year, we continue to provide flexibility that States may add new sites and make a change to the USDA DoD Fresh entitlement allocation at any time. 

We understand that COVID-19 or weather may cause unexpected school closures.  Save the vendor’s contact information on your phone so you can immediately notify the produce vendor when there is an unexpected school closure. As a reminder, the school must cancel the produce order in FFAVORS due to an unexpected closure 24 hours in advance of a scheduled delivery.  Be a courteous customer, notify the produce vendor, and appropriate DLA Service Representative, well in advance of scheduled school closures. To ensure that the vendor receives prompt payment, remember to receipt for produce order in FFAVORS within 5 days of delivery.   

Complaint Process: We recommend that you inspect produce at the time of delivery and record on the delivery document any issues with the delivery, produce quality or condition, or product shortages. Always reject non-domestic produce and report on the delivery document.  All issues regarding produce quality, condition, availability, and delivery must be recorded on the delivery document.  Provide specific details and include photos of the problem(s) along with carton label and markings. Report issues with produce received through USDA DoD Fresh to the appropriate DLA Service Representative, the produce vendor, and the SDA. Make copies of this documentation and maintain it for your records.

If issues are reported and not resolved, please contact the USDA DoD Fresh team. The USDA DoD Fresh team works with DLA to ensure vendors are accountable to meet contract requirements. We always welcome your feedback on the USDA DoD Fresh Program.


On the Horizon

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Legislative Action Conference (LAC) Will Take Place Virtually on March 8th-10th

Hosted by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the Legislative Action Conference (LAC) is right around the corner and will take place virtually from March 8-10, 2021. If you are attending LAC this year, we hope you join us for the USDA updates on Tuesday, March 9, which will include USDA Foods updates! More details about the conference are available here.

Resource Roundup

Nutrition Training in Schools

Team Nutrition Training Grant for School Meal Recipe Development

In October 2020, FNS awarded over $4.1 million in Team Nutrition Training Grants to State Agencies that administer the National School Lunch Program.  These grants assist states in helping schools offer meals supported by recipes that utilize local agricultural products and reflect local food preparation practices and taste preferences.  There were 15 grantees in the first award cohort.  A brief description of each grant award can be found on the FNS website.

FNS is pleased to announce that a second cohort of grantees will be awarded in 2021.  The Request for Applications (RFA) was published on January 12, 2021.  Using grant funds, state agencies are expected to build their capacity to develop standardized school meal recipes that feature local foods.  Grant applications are due by April 19, 2021.  More information on this grant opportunity can be found on the FNS website.  

Technology Synopsis

Finding WBSCM Resources

Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) is under continuous improvement through monthly development activities, and help resources are regularly updated to reflect the latest system changes and recommended processes. Available resource types include work instructions, job aids, simulations, course materials, and release notes.

To access the document library from WBSCM, navigate to Help Training; then drill down through the categories, user groups, and functional areas or topics.

Other methods for finding WBSCM resources include:

1. Use on-screen help while performing a transaction. To find related resources without leaving the current transaction, expand the Options menu and select Help. This will automatically open the related document or a list of relevant documents in a new window. These resources can be referenced without interrupting work in the current transaction.

Figure 1: On-screen Help

Figure 1: On-screen Help

2. Search for documents by keyword. Within the document library, enter one or more keywords in the search bar at the top of the screen, then click the Advanced Search magnifying glass. All documents that contain the keyword(s) in the title or content will be listed in the results.

Figure 2: WBSCM Document Library Search Bar

Figure 2: WBSCM Document Library Search Bar

3. Access links from the announcements banner. On the Training page, the announcements window summarizes recent changes to WBSCM resources and provides links to recently updated training documents as well as role-based resources for different types of transactions.

Figure 3: Training Homepage Announcements Example

Figure 3: Training Homepage Announcements Example

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

System Reminders

  • 2/11/2021 – WBSCM Release
  • 3/15/2021 – FFAVORS Release
  • 3/25/2021 – WBSCM Release
  • 4/29/2021 – WBSCM Release

Planned dates for system activities are subject to change.

How to Stay in the Know with USDA Foods

1. Click here to review or modify your subscription preferences. 

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"

*USDA Foods in Schools --> receive "Spotlight on Schools"

To receive webinar announcements, scroll down to the Webinars category and select your program(s) of interest.

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!

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