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USDA Foods Get Even Greener

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

St. Patrick’s Day might be over, but at USDA we’re still sporting our green.  That’s because of the success of one food in particular—a vegetable underdog: broccoli!  As one of the newest additions to the USDA Foods lineup, AMS purchased 6.87 million pounds (nearly $7.6 million) of broccoli during FY 2013, and FY 2014 purchasing has been even more robust.

Each year, the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff (AMS-CP) spends nearly $2 billion on 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs, otherwise known as USDA Foods.  The AMS-CP mission is to support American agriculture and promote domestic production by purchasing commodities, while meeting the needs of federal food assistance programs across the country.

It takes dedication to that mission on the part of everyone involved—AMS, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), industry customers and contractors, states and recipient agencies, and the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) team—to successfully connect quality American products with school kids and families across the country.

Another soon-to-be green success story is spinach—yes, spinach! Deliveries of USDA frozen spinach began this January and AMS and FNS are keeping a close watch to see how the product is received by schools and kids alike. Adding green to everything from omelets to lasagna, the possibilities for introducing spinach’s health benefits in school breakfasts and lunches are endless.

Both of these green goodies were added to the USDA Foods program lineup in response to requests from school foodservice directors who need green vegetable options to help them meet the Nutrition Standards for School Meals.  Receiving USDA Foods through AMS purchase programs enables schools to stretch their food budgets. At the same time, it opens up a new outlet for high-quality, nutritious, domestically produced agricultural products. It’s a win-win!

A new AMS-CP procurement cycle will begin soon, with most of USDA’s fruit and vegetable products contracted in the spring. You can take a look at the AMS Purchase Summary Report for up-to-date information on current fiscal year purchases of spinach, broccoli, and all the products AMS is purchasing this and every year.

If you are interested in supplying domestic products to USDA, now is a great time to get started.  Visit our website to view our purchase schedule, product specifications, and purchase reports. While there, subscribe to AMS-CP News to receive emails about AMS program activities. You can also check out our most recent webinar for more information about USDA purchase programs and opportunities for businesses—especially small businesses—to become USDA Foods vendors.

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