USDA Foods from Farm to Plate: Spotlight on Schools, November 2021

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

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News & Notes

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Product Information for USDA Foods in Schools Coming Soon!

FNS is excited to announce the upcoming release of a new database with vendor-specific product information for USDA Foods in Schools by the end of 2021! This system will officially be called the “USDA Foods Database.”  Vendors who supply products for USDA Foods in Schools will be required to provide nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information for all USDA Foods, or products in which vendors have a contract with USDA to deliver USDA Foods products to State agencies. States and school districts will be able to access this information to inform their ordering decisions and plan their menus. Here’s how it will work:

  1. Download the USDA Foods Database from the FNS website (once it is posted later this calendar year).
  2. Open the file and click the instructions tab. This tab provides information on how to use the database.
  3. Go the Product Information tab and access nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information for USDA Foods!

This new initiative will transform how States and school districts order and use USDA Foods in their Child Nutrition Programs. FNS will spend the next year transitioning to this new process during 2022 and will phase out Product Information Sheets for USDA Foods in Schools by December 31, 2022.

To learn more about which USDA Foods products will have nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information available, check out the List of Materials Required for GS1 GDSN.

We hope this information is helpful and provides a more streamlined process to learn more about USDA Foods! Email us at with any questions or concerns.

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USDA Foods Provides Access to Local Food for Schools Across the Country

USDA recently released the results from the 2019 Farm to School Census providing information about how school districts are engaging in a wide range of activities to serve locally produced foods in school cafeterias and expose students to a variety of food-related education experiences.  A key finding of the census was that USDA Foods and the USDA Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (USDA DoD Fresh) were among the most common sources of local foods identified by SFAs. 43% of school districts surveyed reported purchasing local food through USDA DoD Fresh and 36% reported using other USDA Foods purchases to obtain local food. School districts can identify local products through USDA DoD Fresh by looking for the “Local” identifier in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Order and Receipt System (FFAVORS) or using information available in the State of Origin field.  Additionally, USDA publishes USDA Foods State of Origin purchase data for products available through USDA Foods direct delivery and bulk for processing that school districts can use to determine the likelihood of receiving local products through these sources. 

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USDA DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

USDA continues to offer the flexibility for States to add new schools or to change the amount allocated to USDA DoD Fresh at any time throughout the school year. Here are some tips for using USDA DoD Fresh.

  • Allow up to 30 days for the process to add new schools or for school name changes in FFAVORS. 
  • Contact your assigned DLA Representative for changes with a school’s point of contact information.
  •  Schools are responsible to inform the produce vendor for dates the school will be closed. Orders must be cancelled in FFAVORS 24 hours before the day of delivery.
  • To help stretch your dollars, order produce when it is in season. USDA DoD Fresh produce must be U. S. grown, so order items during the U. S., growing season. During this time of year, order produce harvested in the fall, for example, apples, grapes, pears, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, peppers, squash and sweet potatoes.
  • Produce vendors are also experiencing issues with warehouse staff and driver shortages and late deliveries from their suppliers. Please be flexible and understanding if the vendor has to change the assigned delivery day, the driver is late with a delivery, or items are not available.
  • Continue to immediately report issues with produce quality or condition to the produce vendor, DLA representative, and the State Distributing Agency.

Resource Roundup

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Planning for a Dynamic School Environment in School Year 2021-2022: Supply Chain Issues

School districts across the country have made great efforts to adapt to challenging environments and ensure that students receive nutritious school meals.  USDA is aware that some school districts are experiencing challenges with purchasing and receiving food through normal channels, including unanticipated cancellations, substitutions, or increased prices.  USDA is committed to working together with state agencies, school districts, the food industry, and other stakeholders to discuss challenges and identify solutions.  USDA has provided a variety of school meal program flexibilities, waivers, and training resources to help states and school districts navigate supply chain challenges and provide healthy meals to children.  Please see the School Meal Supply Chain resource for more information about these flexibilities and visit the Team Nutrition Webinars and Training page for additional training materials, including the Procurement Strategies for School Year 2021-2022 webinars for State Agencies and School Food Authorities.  

Children Ages 5-11 Are Now Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine

All kids 5 and older are now eligible to get vaccinated. This is a safe and effective vaccine. It has undergone rigorous review, and now has been authorized by FDA and recommended by CDC for kids ages 5-11, after thorough testing for safety in thousands of children. We encourage USDA partner agencies to share the messaging below with program participants and parents.

The best way to protect your child against COVID-19, including the Delta variant, is to get them vaccinated.

  • Kids are being infected with COVID-19, and some are getting seriously ill or even dying. Even if your child doesn’t get severely ill, they could face long-term health consequences or pass the virus to others.
  • If your child gets COVID-19, the negative health effects can be serious and last months; but the most common side effect of the vaccine is a sore arm.
  • We know that many parents are trying to decide what is right for their child and their family. If you have questions about your child and the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to a pediatrician, school nurse, or another trusted health care provider.

Finding a vaccine is easy, and getting vaccinated is free.

  • The vaccine for kids is available in more than 20,000 sites across the country, including thousands of pediatricians and family doctors’ offices, pharmacies, community health centers, children’s hospitals, and community-based sites and schools.
  • Parents will be able to find available vaccines at or by contacting their health care provider or local pharmacy.

Vaccines help protect your child, your family, and your community.

  • 15 million adolescents have already been vaccinated.
  • The vaccines offer lasting protection to prevent your child from getting infected or, worse, having severe outcomes. The vaccine is more than 90% effective.
  • Getting vaccinated will help keep schools open, sports going, and help our kids maintain a more normal lifestyle, thanks to the protection provided by the vaccines.

Technology Synopsis

Browser Change for WBSCM Coming in 2022

The Web-based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system will be transitioning to the Google Chrome browser for access to the WBSCM Portal in early Spring 2022. Microsoft has announced that they will end support for Internet Explorer 11 for Windows, and Federal security guidelines require agencies to replace system components when support is no longer available.

All users are encouraged to begin using Chrome for activities in WBSCM. Please report any issues or challenges to the WBSCM Service Desk, so they can be recorded and tracked for further analysis and testing to prepare for the official transition to Chrome.

For questions about WBSCM, please contact the WBSCM Service Desk or call (877) 927-2648.

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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