September 2016
In This Issue
Did You Miss our Session? 
Results from the Procurement Surveys are now Available!

We're happy to finally share the full results of our Study on School Food Service Procurement.

Highlights from this study were presented at ANC 2016 in San Antonio at our Round Table session - "Improving Procurement, one conversation at a time", which we know many of you wanted to attend but that the size of the room limited the number of attendees. 

So, for all of you that missed the Round Table session, for everyone that participated in our surveys, and to all interested in the procurement process, you can now find the full results on our website at
New at Interflex
Updates to BidAdvantage for Schools
If you work with a cooperative buying group to enter quantities for your bids, we've made some improvements that you'll see in the system this coming year:
  • Management of cooperative members has been improved. You can now easily remove a contact or re-invite a contact from your member list.
  • Approved brands will now be displayed for all members of a cooperative while entering their quantities into the system.
  • Each member of a cooperative can now export the list of specifications as well as the quantities that they have entered into the system.
  • Your specification ID number will now be visible on all exports.
  • The deadline for quantities to be entered will be visible to everyone.

To learn more about these changes, please download our Volume Gathering Update Guide or contact  

National School Lunch Week - October 10th - 14th, 2016 
The theme for this year's National School Lunch Week is "Show your Spirit" - a reminder of the positive effects school lunch has for students across the country! Check out for more information, handouts, and celebration ideas.

Nutrition Labels and GMO's 
New nutritional fact panels are making their debut, featuring new information such as added sugars, serving size changes, and sporting an updated design. To read more about how nutrition panels have changed, visit the FDA's website.

In a few years time you'll also be seeing G.M.O.'s (genetically modified organisms) labeled on food products if the recently signed G.M.O. disclosure act comes to fruition. You can read more about what the new law stipulates and the timeline here.

2016-2017 Reimbursement Rates Released 
The reimbursement rates, or the amount the Federal Government provides states for school breakfasts, lunches, and snacks that are served under the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, for 2016-2017 have been released.  You can read a summary of the amounts and adjustment rates provided by the Food Research and Action Center as well as the Federal Register Document for more information.

2016-2017 Value of Donated Foods Announced 
The USDA announced that the national average value of donated foods from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 for each lunch served in the National School Lunch Program is 23 cents, a decrease of 3/4 of a cent from the 2015-2016 school year. Read the full Federal Register Notice for more details.  
We all know that social media can be a great tool, but it can also be a bit overwhelming at times. Where do you start? With so much content available, pages like a Twitter feed or Facebook page can become a maze. Here are some of our recommendations to help you focus your follows:

On Twitter:
  • @MNPSChefRebecca - If you're into creative recipes, delicious food pics, and positive motivation, look no further than Chef Rebecca's Twitter account.
  • @WisDPI_SNP - the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction for school nutrition programs shares great resources and tips for schools in the state of Wisconsin as well as nationwide!
  • @Lunch4KidsRSU14 - Jeanne Reilly shares facts, highlights from conferences, meals from her school district, and so much more.

On Facebook:

  • School Meals that Rock - the go-to Facebook page for all things school food. It's chock full of information, encouraging messages, with just enough humor to keep you scrolling...
  • The ICN - The Institute of Child Nutrition's Facebook page offers cafeteria marketing materials, activities, and recipes that meet school standards.
  • School Nutrition Association - see news highlights, upcoming webinars, and fun food ideas from the national organization.

And don't forget to follow Interflex!


Ready to participate?
Here are a few tips to help you join in the conversation:


Fact check

Before you re-post any information, check your sources and check your facts. Knowledge is power but misinformation can be dangerous.


Stay positive

It can be easy to get wrapped up in a debate or an argument, but social media isn't typically a productive environment for these types of discussions. Instead, try to stay focused on the positive posts and encourage constructive conversations.


Stay safe 

It can't be said enough - be careful not to share any personal details online.  

Although students can be picky eaters and wouldn't be the ideal audience for exotic and gourmet foods, being aware of trends in the food industry in general can help us stay a step ahead in terms of creativity and flavor profiles. Check out these tasty new trends:

At its most basic, matcha is powdered green tea leaves. Traditionally, hot water is added to the matcha to make a thick or thin tea, however matcha has found its way into desserts such as pudding, cakes, cookies, and even ice-cream recently. 
Aquafaba  Aquafaba is a fancy name for the liquid leftover after you cook beans or legumes like chickpeas. The viscous water in a can or box of beans that you would typically drain away is Aquafaba! This liquid is rich in proteins and is becoming more popular in vegetarian and vegan products because it can replace egg whites.  
Harissa  A thick sauce or paste with a spicy flavor - usually made from chili peppers, olive oil, garlic, and spices such as coriander, cumin, caraway, and even mint). Harissa is typically seen in prepared dishes such as stew, as a rub on meat, poultry, or fish, or to flavor couscous. 
Soursop  Also called guanabana, soursop is a fruit from Latin America that grows on a tree and is said to taste like a combination of pineapple and strawberry. It has a creamy texture, like a banana or coconut and some say it has subtle sour or tangy notes. Soursop or guanabana is becoming a popular flavor in juices, ice-cream, and candy, although in many parts of the world it is eaten raw or pureed as a dessert. 
What's invisible  

and smells   

like carrots?
the bunny
the answer!

Who uses BidAdvantage for Schools? 
We're often asked how many people are using BidAdvantage for Schools. What kind of schools use the free resource and how? To help answer some of those questions,  here's a peek into the numbers behind the procurement system:   

Operators who do not issue their bids out using BidAdvantage for Schools may be using the system to help them manage and create their specifications, research manufacturer product information, or to create their bids and export them out of the system.
As school food programs move towards healthier options we see more than just the food served being changed. The equipment used to prepare school food is evolving as well. One example of this is the switch from using a fryer to a steamer in the kitchen. Many new ovens purchased are actually combination ovens and steamers, or more commonly referred to as combi-ovens or combi-steamers.

According to data in, schools are requesting steamers 82% of the time versus fryers only 18% of the time.

You can read about how Warrenton and South Park Elementary schools in Mississippi made the transition and the benefits they're already seeing on the Vicksburg Post website. In this instance, choosing steamers over fryers not only provided a healthier way to prepare food for students but also provides a cleaner method of cooking for the environment and prepares meals faster.

Steamers do, on average, cost more than fryers. According to data, steamers cost approximately 9.2% more than fryers. As funding for new equipment becomes available for schools, this trend will most likely continue.


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