Buying Group Resource
Learn about the Food Research and Action Center and check out their new Buying Group Resource below!
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. FRAC works with hundreds of national, state and local nonprofit organizations, public agencies, corporation and labor organizations to address hunger, food insecurity and their root cause, poverty. In addition to its legislative work, FRAC provides technical assistance as well as grant funding to school districts in order to help increase the reach of the federal nutrition programs, such as the School Breakfast, Afterschool and Summer Food Programs. Every first, second and third week of the month, FRAC facilitates technical assistance calls (Summer Meals Matter, Breakfast Matters and Afterschool Meals Matters, respectively) to provide food nutrition directors, hunger advocates and other partners with the tools necessary to increase the reach of these critically important federal programs. To join an upcoming call, please visit us here or sign up for our Meals Matter newsletter here.
In addition to our technical assistance calls, FRAC also houses a number of resources to help food nutrition directors and hunger advocates increase access to the Breakfast, Lunch, Afterschool and Summer Food programs. One of our latest resources, the Buying Group resource, provides an overview of how a buying group can be used to help food nutrition directors source healthy, affordable foods for their school nutrition programs. This step-by-step guide outlines what a buying group is, how to start one and showcases how buying groups have helped to significantly reduce food costs for other school districts. For more information and access to FRAC's resources, please visit: www.frac.org/
Be sure to also follow us on Twitter (@fractweets), Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/foodresearchandactioncenter) and Instagram (@fracgram).
New at Interflex
AwardedBids.com Updates - Coming Soon
lways improving to simplify the bid process for you, here's what new at Interflex:
The process in place for brokers and their manufacturers to award pricing requests in BidAdvantage for Manufacturers is getting a tune-up! The new procedure will be faster, easier, and more streamlined to integrate information from AwardedBids.com, meaning less work for you! To hear more about the Award Wizard, contact Kirsten Snyder or stop by booth #1344 at ANC to talk with us in person.
Two new product categories have been added to BidAdvantage for Schools - Meat Substitutes and Poultry Substitutes. Schools can now utilize these categories when creating specifications or browsing the product database. Manufacturers can also list their products within these categories to make them easier to find and more relevant to the schools. Contact us to learn more.
The AwardedBids.com site will be getting a new look! In addition to visual enhancements, subscribers will soon have the ability to search a variety of bid types including Foodservice Management contracts, Equipment bids, Vending bids, and more!
Contact Kirsten Snyder or stop by booth #1344 at ANC to
New professional standards for school nutrition personnel will go into effect July 1, 2015. These new standards require a minimum amount of training hours per year and minimum hiring standards. There is some flexibility built into the requirements for the first year and the new standards will be phased in over time.
For detailed information and help regarding the Professional Standards, check out these resources:
- USDA Food & Nutrition Services: Here you'll find a page dedicated to the new Professional Standards, including the entire final rule, a summary, background information, as well as tools to get you started.
- USDA Professional Standards for School Nutrition Professionals: This site allows school nutrition personnel to browse trainings that match their needs. Trainings are categorized by topic and include detailed information about how to access the training, what content will be covered, and when the training is offered.
- Professional Standards Guidelines for SNA Members: All SNA members can access the School Nutrition Association's breakdown of the new standards as well as tools to fulfill your requirements and track your progress.
Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization
On September 30, 2015 the current Child Nutrition Act will expire. Congress will be reviewing the programs authorized under this act, including the National School Lunch program and the School Breakfast program, to determine whether they are running effectively, how they might be improved, and what new policies may need to be put in place. Over a dozen bills have been introduced to Congress in relation to Child Nutrition already and the list continues to grow.
Check out a few of the key bills that have been presented thus far:
- Healthy School Meals Flexibility Act (S.1146): This bill would prohibit limitations on sodium beyond the July 2014 maximum levels allowed in school breakfasts for school year 2014-2015. It also would only require that half of all grains be whole grain-rich.
- Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act (H.R.1504): Similar to the above, this bill would prohibit limitations on maximum calories, maximum grains, and meat/meat alternative. The bill also prohibits any further limitations on sodium and would only require half of all grains be whole grain-rich.
- Farm to School Act of 2015 (S.569/H.R.1061): This bill would reauthorize the Farm to School program.
- Sugar Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET) Act (H.R.1687): This bill would impose a tax on beverages that have been sweetened with sugar. The tax revenue is proposed to benefit the prevention, management, and study of diet-related health issues.
- Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 (S.1539/H.R.2715): This bill would make meals available to children from low-income households throughout the summer by providing qualifying families with an electronic card that could be used to purchase food in addition to the Summer Nutrition meal programs.
For a complete list of Child Nutrition related bills and more information, please visit the School Nutrition Association's listing.
Not Just for Bid Season
You've probably heard of BidAdvantage for Schools referred to as a bidding or procurement tool, but did you know you can utilize it year-round? Check out tips to make life a little easier beyond bid season:
- Procure Commodities: New, customizable bid fields mean that you can procure your commodity processed and USDA donated foods in the fall.
- Use the Product database: Thousands of manufacturer products in the database means that product codes, pack sizes, nutritionals, allergens, CN equivalencies, and even sample requests are right at your fingertips.
- Maintain your Specifications: Working on your specs throughout the year will not only mean less work for you come bid season, but will also decrease the paper on your desk. When you discover a new product, learn about a change in your future menus, or return from a conference, be sure to update your specifications so that you don't have to worry about it later.
- Access Vendor Documents: Using BidAdvantage for Schools means all bid documents sent and received through the system will be saved in one place for you to access at any time. The electronic documents provide an easy-to-find back-up just in case one of those hundreds of pieces of paper gets lost or misfiled the day before an audit.
Contact us to learn more.
Featured Manufacturer: MIC Food
A leader in value-added frozen tropical food products, MIC Food has brought
eady-to-use tropical fruits and vegetables to chefs, restaurants, schools, and others in the industry in an effort to further innovate their menus to appeal to today's diverse consumer demands.
Learn a little about MIC Food's products:
Q: What is the difference between a plantain and a banana?
A: Although plantains are part of the banana family, they are starchier, less sweet and must be cooked to be fully enjoyed.
Q: How do ripe plantains credit in the school nutrition program?
A: Plantains are part of the banana family although classified as a Starchy Vegetable in the USDA Child Nutrition Program where 2 slices = 1/4 cup of Starchy Vegetable.
Q: What is the most common way to eat or prepare a ripe plantain?
A: The most common way to eat a sliced ripe plantain is as a side dish but can be enjoyed as an ingredient in a variety of recipes covering breakfast, snacks, baked goods, entrees and desserts.
Q: What is your favorite way to enjoy ripe plantains?
A: We enjoy them as a complement side dish to any protein like beef, pork or poultry. They are also perfect in rice bowl dishes to add a burst of flavor.
10 Years! Happy Birthday to the
We are happy to celebrate The Alliance for a Healthier Generation's 10-Year Anniversary. Over the past decade, the Alliance has brought everyone to the table to play pivotal roles to support childhood health. Through their work, we are seeing trends toward health in the places where kids spend their time. Take a look at what's been happening the last 10 years: http://bit.ly/1fKCNy4
A lot can change in 10 years. Students graduate, families expand, passions are found and children grow. Ten years ago, children weren't growing as healthily as they could be. The environments in which they grew up weren't as healthy as they could be. And the systems that determined the food they ate and time they moved weren't supporting health as well as they could be.
That's why 10 years ago, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded by the American Heart Association and Clinton Foundation in response to the rapid increase in childhood obesity rates of the previous three decades.
While work still needs to be done, with your help over these past 10 years, we've taken major strides toward creating a healthier generation.
Be sure to check out this Op-Ed on CNN.com to read more about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's anniversary. And don't miss out on this new video to hear President Clinton and Nancy Brown, the CEO of the American Heart Association, reflect on the first 10 years of The Alliance for a Healthier Generation:
Cultivate an Eco-Friendly Kitchen
It's not easy being green, as Kermit says, but taking little steps can go a long way. Check out our tips to make your kitchen a little greener and the success stories from other school districts.
Reducing the amount of paper your foodservice department uses is not only good for the environment, but can cut back on costs too! Here are just a few ideas to escape the endless piles of paper:
- Stop printing your menus and try utilizing an app like Nutrislice or posting your menus on the school website. Southwest Licking Local Schools in Ohio is putting their menus on a smart phone application, anticipating cost-savings, time-savings, and improved communication with parents and students. You can read more about the school's transition here.
- Bid electronically. BidAdvantage for Schools is a free online procurement tool that will help you prepare, issue, evaluate, and award bids electronically. You can still send or receive hard-copies, if necessary, but bidding online is often faster and easier too!
Use Recyclable or Compostable Products
Many necessities in the lunch room end up in the waste bin after just one use. Foam trays, plastic utensils, and disposable cups all get thrown away in huge quantities. Explore eco-friendly options and try to use products with less packaging, when possible.
- Swap out your foam lunch trays for compostable plates. The Urban School Food Alliance recently procured compostable plates, costing the participating districts less than a penny more per plate than they were paying for foam trays. The Alliance says that this will not only dramatically reduce the school districts' waste but also will demonstrate the importance of sustainable options to students. Read more about The Urban School Food Alliance's success here.
Eat your Greens
Procuring your produce locally, starting a farm to school program, or serving produce seasonally are all great ways to make your kitchen a little greener. Take a bite out of these ideas:
- Start a school garden! Linton Springs Elementary School in Maryland recently planted their school garden after two years of planning. The results are already sprouting! You can read more about Linton Springs Elementary School garden and many others on the Whole Kids Foundation website, here.
- Put vegetarian menu items in the spotlight. Making fruits and vegetables the star of the plate can really showcase their beauty, taste, and versatility. Check out these vegetarian recipes from USDA's What's Cooking? on their Food & Nutrition Service website to get inspired!
Sysco & US Foods Merger Cancelled
The two major distributors have abandoned their planned merger and will continue functioning as separately operating companies. Sysco will pay breakup fees to both US Foods and Performance Food Group following the end of the deal. Read More
Ban on Texas School Deep Fryers Lifted
After being restricted for about a decade, school foodservice departments in Texas can now choose to utilize deep fat fryers and soda machines. Read More
FDA to Ban Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Manufacturers will have three years to phase out partially hydrogenated oils (the primary source of artificial trans fat) from all processed foods. Read More
Thanks for Reading!