Could Afterschool Meals Work for You?

by Sam / 7. April 2015 10:13

In the latest issue of School Nutrition Magazine, Penny McLaren highlights four successful examples of school districts around the country successfully implementing afterschool supper programs under The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which has been available to in all states since 2010.

The article extols the benefits of supper programs such as:

  • Combating the growing issue of food insecurity by providing an extra meal to students
  • Generating extra/alternative revenue and improving staff efficiency
  • Creating a positive presence for district school service

This got us wondering about the viability of supper in the markets we serve. We dug deeper and learned that qualifying to run an afterschool program (and the federal funding associated with it - up to the highest lunchtime meal reimbursement) was simpler than we thought.

The basic requirements:

  • Be located in a low-income area 
  • Offer educational and enrichment activities
  • Meet health and safety standards

We found that the actual implementation of an afterschool meals program was also simpler than one might think with a streamlined application process that allows a program to meet the F&R qualifications on a district rather than student-by-student basis; the ability to serve either hot or cold meals consisting of 4 oft used elements: 1 serving of milk, 2 servings of fruits and/or vegetables, 1 serving of grains, 1 serving of protein; and flexibility on when the meal can be served from immediately after the final bell throughout the afterschool period.

Have you thought about serving supper in your district? We'd love to hear your comments on the idea!

For more information contact the Child Nutrition Agency that Oversees CACFP in your state:

Pennsylvania NSLP, CACFP, SFSP
Food and Nutrition Services
Department of Education
333 Market Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 800-331-0129
Fax: 717-783-6566 

State Director
Division of Food and Nutrition
Department of Agriculture
33 West State Street
P.O. Box 334
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: 609-984-0692
Fax: 609-984-0878

Check out additional resources here:

FRAC’s Afterschool Meal Guide

Moving from Afterschool Snack to a Meal

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Afterschool Meals FAQ

Sample Supper Menu


Big News on the Regulation Front

by Sam / 17. December 2014 09:52

The new regulations on whole grain and sodium levels have been tough sledding for all of us, schools, manufacturers, and brokers alike. But relief is on the way. Last week, as part of the fiscal 2015 omnibus spending package, Congress passed riders to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 with two important elements:

  1. Exemption to the 100% whole grain-rich requirement.*
  2. Suspension of further sodium reductions beyond the 2014-15 Target 1 limits.**

*School receiving exemptions would be required to comply with the pre-July 2014 standard requiring half of the grains offered during the school week meet the whole grain-rich criteria.

**Target 1 levels: for kindergarten through fifth-grade students, 540 mgs per day (1,230 calories); for grades 6 through 8, 600 mgs (1,360 calories), and for grades 9 through 12, 640 mgs (1,420 calories).


The new exemptions are contingent on a school’s ability to “demonstrate hardship, including financial hardship, in procuring specific whole grain products which are acceptable to students and compliant with the whole grain-rich requirements.”

What do you think about the relaxation of the new standards? A step in the right direction or a step back in better nutrition?


Get Your Bundle On with Gold Kist and Red Gold All Natural Low Sodium Ketchup

by Sam / 11. November 2014 13:48

With the new USDA Smart Snacks Standards now in effect, we know that everyone is scrambling to find menu options that meet the requirements. One strategy that we came across recently was the idea of bundling items together to create viable entrées.

Under the new guidelines, an entrée is defined as either:

  • A combination food of meat or meat alternate and whole grain rich food;
  • A combination food of vegetable or fruit and meat or meat alternate;
  • A meat or meat alternate alone with the exception of yogurt, low-fat or reduced fat cheese, nuts, seeds and nut or seed butters, and meat snacks.

*A combination food is defined as a product that contains two or more components representing two or more of the recommended food groups: fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein or grains.

Additionally, an entrée must meet the following nutrient requirements:

  • Calorie limits:
    • Entrée items: ≤ 350 calories
  • Sodium limits:
    • Entrée items: ≤ 480 mg
  • Fat limits:
    • Total fat: ≤35% of calories
    • Saturated fat: <10% of calories
    • Trans fat: zero grams
  • Sugar limits:
    • ≤ 35% of weight from total sugars in foods

That's a lot to consider, but here's a simple example of how bundling can work for you:

Take a combination food like Gold Kist's Homestyle Breaded Chicken Nuggets. On their own, they fall under definition (i) of the entrée guidelines (so no need to count the bun toward the nutritionals) and meet all of the requirements except for that pesky % of calories from fat (40%).

By bundling 3 packets of Red Gold's All Natural Low Sodium Ketchup with the nuggets, you are able to drop that percentage to 34%.

Before: 72 cal from fat/180 total cal = .40

After: 72 cal from fat/210 total cal = .34

Each packet adds 10 calories to the equation without adding any calories from fat and, voila, you've effectively dropped the total percentage below the 35% threshold.

Call Barry Food Sales at 800-378-1548, for a complete list of all of the Smart Snacks from Pilgrim's Pride/GoldKist that can be bundled.

This is just one strategy we came across.

What are some of the creative ways you came up with to deal with the new regulations?


General | Nutrition | Nutrition | Commodities | General | Nutrition

A Synopsis on the Recent NYT Article: “How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground”

by Sam / 17. October 2014 10:03
Untitled Document

Earlier this month, The New York Times published an article entitled, "How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground," chronicling the advent and implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Since the article is a bit lengthy, we decided to create a condensed timeline of the major events described in the piece to help give you a quick synopsis of how we have arrived at the current regulatory climate.

December, 2010 - The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law

January, 2011 - The Department of Agriculture releases revised meal pattern for school breakfast and lunch.

  • The rules outlined just what schools — and, by extension, their suppliers — would have to do to continue receiving government subsidies. Both groups were struck by just how aggressive the new rules were. Within a few years, schools would need to switch all of their breads and pastas to whole-grain varieties. Within a decade, the average salt content of a high-school lunch would have to be cut by roughly half. When the school year began in fall 2012, lunches would have to offer twice as many fruits and vegetables, and students would be required to take at least half of them. At the same time, plates had to have fewer "starchy vegetables," obvious code words for French fries."
  • The new rule counted two tablespoons of tomato paste as two tablespoons of tomato paste [as opposed to the old rule of eight tablespoons of tomatoes]."

Summer 2011 - The Coalition for Sustainable School Meals Program, headed by Barry Sackin, is established in reaction to displeasure with former SNA Washington Counsel, Marshall Matz, and new rules – specifically the rules regarding tomatoes and "starchy vegetables" (potatoes).

November 2011 - Aided by Republican lawmakers, Pizza industry lobbyists, and Minnesota Democrats, Representative Collin Peterson and Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Coalition for Sustainable School Meals Program helps add a rider to final budget blocking the implementation of the tomato and potato rules.

July 2012 - New rules take effect, including a "last-minute ruling from the U.S.D.A…imposing a weekly cap on grain and protein, allowing no more than 12 ounces of each per week at lunch."

2012-2013 School Year - Fallout from new changes include:

  • Well-publicized student outcry via social media (Youtube videos, #ThanksMichelleObama and #BrownBagginIt)
  • Some school districts [moving] to drop out of the program, forgoing the federal subsidies in exchange for more autonomy."
  • Roughly one million fewer kids…participating in the National School Lunch program, the first decrease in more than two decades."

December 2012 – Protein caps relaxed for rest of school year.

February 2012 – USDA announces new round of rules called Smart Snacks in Schools.

  • Smart Snacks in Schools"…would reach beyond the subsidized meals in the regular-lunch line to regulate — for the first time — all of the competitive foods students bought on the à la carte line, as well as snacks bought from vending machines or school stores."

May 2014 – Republican Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama spearheads the attachment "of nonbinding language to the 2013 appropriation bill asking the U.S.D.A. to let schools apply for a [one year] waiver from the Smart Snacks standards."

June 2014 – Smart Snacks in Schools rule published on schedule. Marshall Mat is informed he will be replaced as SNA Washington Counsel.


ISP vs. TSP: Which is Your Processor Using?

by Sam / 13. October 2014 06:39

Perusing the ingredient list of many commodity chicken products, you have probably come across the abbreviations ISP and TSP and wondered: What are those things, anyway? 

The straight forward answer is that Isolated Soy Protein and Textured Vegetable Protein are both alternate protein products that are added to items like chicken nuggets and patties to enhance their nutritional value. They are both derived from soy beans and added as a low fat, low calorie protein source. But what’s the difference?

The difference is important on many levels. While both are processed soy bean products, they fall into two completely different categories. ISP is an isolate, consisting of approximately 90% protein and 10% carbohydrate, whereas TSP is a concentrate with only a 70/30% protein to carbohydrate ratio. In the simplest terms, this means that ISP does its intended job better than TSP—it provides more protein with fewer calories and less fat. 

The differences between the two can also be seen—or rather, smelled—in the kitchen. When cooked, carbohydrates give off distinct flavors and smells. Due to the disparity in carbohydrate proportion between ISP and TSP, items made with TSP often emit a “cerealy” odor that has contributed to “soy bias” among students.

In addition to these basic differences, ISP offers benefits unique to soy protein products. It is low in fat, saturated fat, and contains no trans fat, while also being cholesterol and lactose-free. It also has a PDCAAS (the standard scale for measuring protein quality) of 100, which places it among other high quality proteins like egg and milk.

So what are those things, anyway? They’re a significant piece of the puzzle when choosing commodity meat products.

Which one does your processor use?


Shortages for the Supply of Americas Most Desired Proteins

by Barry Katz / 9. October 2014 06:22

Wondering why the price of your favorite protein products are increasing? Here is a quick update on current trends in the beef, pork, and chicken industries:

BEEF: Following prolonged droughts, U.S. cattle herds have shriveled to their smallest levels since the 1950s. Beef prices now are around $230-$245 per 100 pounds, compared to $125-$130 last year. That's well up from the five-year average of about $115. There is no quick solution to the shortage of cattle, because it takes 18 to 30 months for cattle to reach market weight and each cow can only have one calf per year. Rebuilding the herd is a two-to-four year process.

PORK: The pig population is shrinking as a flu virus kills off piglets. U.S. hog production might decline between 3% and 4% in 2014, and pork now costs about $80 to $85 per 100 pounds, compared to $55 to $60 a year ago.

CHICKEN: Beef and pork shortages in combination with a high demand for chicken have paved the way for chicken prices to rise. We likely won't see substantial increases in production until the second-half of 2015. Because of beef and pork shortages, it is prompting beef and pork companies to roll out new chicken products. This is spreading the already short supply of chicken even thinner. Chicken prices are expected to remain elevated for all of 2014 and into 2015. Even though it is easy to increase the chicken supply because of its short cycle (about four to eight weeks to grow a chicken), U.S. chicken producers
are having a hard time increasing the chicken supply because production and capacity of chicken was cut throughout the supply chain when grain prices were very high. Because of this, they cannot easily increase supply for 2014.


Breakfast Regulations for SY 2013 - 2014

by barrykatz / 20. May 2013 04:00

On March 11, 2013 the USDA released a memo with the questions and answers pertaining to the National School Breakfast Program for school year 2013 - 2014. The memo provides clarfication on breakfast guidelines.

In SY 2013-2014 all schools must use a food based menu planning approach for breakfast.
Schools must implement the three age-grade groups (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12). There is significant overlap in the component requirements between the age-grade groups, with the primary difference being increased minimum grain requirements for older students as described below.
Schools must plan breakfast meals that meet the calorie ranges, on average, over the course of the week. There is overlap between the age-grade groups, which provides further flexibility for schools that serve more than one age-grade group at breakfast. It is important to emphasize that the calorie requirements are average calorie requirements and that the calorie limits do not apply on a per-meal or per-student basis.
Foods offered must contain zero grams of trans fat per portion.


A food component is one of three food groups that comprise reimbursable breakfasts. These are grains (with optional meat/meat alternate allowed); fruit/vegetable; and milk.A food item is a specific food offered within the three food components. For the purposes of OVS, a school must offer at least four food items and students may decline only one food item even if more than four food items are offered.

Food Components
• For all grade groups, schools must offer at least 1 ounce equivalent (oz eq) of grains each day.
• The minimum weekly offering varies by age-grade group: 7 oz eq for grades K-5, 8 oz eq for grades 6-8, and 9 oz eq for grades 9-12.
• Half of grains offered must be whole grain-rich in SY 2013-14.
Optional Meat/Meat Alternate
• There is no separate requirement to offer meat/meat alternates in the new SBP meal pattern.
• Schools may offer a meat/meat alternate in place of part of the grains component after the minimum daily grains requirement is offered in the menu or planned breakfast. A serving 1 oz eq of meat/meat alternate may credit as 1 oz eq of grains.
• Alternately, a school may offer a meat/meat alternate as an extra food and not credit it toward any component.
• In SY 2013-14, there is no change to the existing Juice/Fruit/Vegetable component.
• Schools must offer at least ½ cup of fruits and/or vegetables to all age-grade groups.
• Vegetables and fruits may be offered interchangeably, there are no substitution requirements and no vegetable subgroup requirements.
• There are no limitations on juice in SY 2013-14.
• Students are not required to take fruit under OVS in SY 2013-14.
Fluid Milk
• Schools must offer only fat-free (unflavored or flavored) or low-fat (unflavored) milk.
• For all age-grade groups, schools must offer at least 1 cup of milk daily.
• A variety of milk, at least two options, must be offered.

Offer vs. Serve (OVS)
Under OVS, for School Year 2013-2014, a student must be offered at least four food items and may decline only one food item. The food items selected may be from any of the required components and must be served in at least the minimum daily portion.
As noted above, for the SBP in School Year 2013-2014, students are not required to take a minimum ½ cup of fruit or vegetables for OVS.

Additional Information
Because aspects of the SBP meal pattern are being phased-in over multiple years, this guidance document reflects only those requirements in effect SY 2013-2014. Additional guidance will be provided for SY 2014-2015 and beyond, when all of the component requirements are in effect.
These Questions & Answers and other materials related to the new meal requirements are available on the FNS website at
We appreciate all you do for the School Meal Programs and look forward to continue working with you to improve the nutrition of America’s children. State agencies are reminded to distribute this memo and enclosure to program operators immediately. SFAs should contact their State agencies for additional information. State agencies may direct any questions concerning this guidance to the appropriate Food and Nutrition Service Regional Office.

To review the entire memo click here


General | Nutrition

The New Nutritional Guidelines Debate

by barrykatz / 12. November 2012 11:25

In recent weeks, the debate over the changes to the school lunch program first enacted with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act of 2010 has heated up. All across the country and as close by as Parsippany and Pittsburgh students are voicing their disapproval of the new guidelines. In rural Kansas, a group of high-school students went as far as creating a video (“We Are Hungry”) parodying the restrictions. They complain that the portions are too small and that the new healthier fruit, vegetable and grain options don’t taste good.

Adults are also getting into the act. Parents are balking at the increased cost of the new lunches, while food service professionals have found their own bones to pick. Paramount among their concerns is the issue of waste, not only in the amount of food that students are tossing out due to undesirability but in the added time and labor involved with measuring out more precise serving sizes. As a result, new strategies for trying to fix the problem have gained attention. In Florida, school districts are considering using “trash-cams” to monitor what exactly the students are throwing away.

The issue of child obesity in America has been long documented, and any legislation aimed at curtailing the epidemic cannot be taken lightly, but what do we say to the students in Kansas and New Jersey and Pennsylvania? The debate is on. Tell us what you think


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Battered and/or Breaded Products do not count towards weekly grain requirements in SY 2012-2013

by barrykatz / 23. May 2012 09:59

On April 26, 2012 the USDA released memo SP 30-2012, titled "Grain Requirements for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program". Within this memo the USDA addresses battered and/or breaded products being counted towards the weekly grain requirements. Page 5 states  "During SY 2012 – 2013, battered and/or breaded products offered will not need to be counted toward the maximum weekly grain requirements in the meal pattern. Beginning July 1, 2013 (SY 2013-2014), all grains which are part of battered and/or breaded products offered must be counted towards weekly grain requirement".

Gold Kist and Chef's Corner Chicken products are considered battered and/or breaded products and will not count towards the weekly grain requirements for this upcoming school year (SY 2012-2013). Click Here to view the entire memo.

This memo is critical as it allows schools and manufacturers additional time to adapt to the new regulations. In particular schools can focus on shifting to whole grain as well as unbreaded products, without having to worry about serving too many breads in the SY 2012 2013. At the same time, manufacturers can utilize the additional time to extend their product lines.

Barry Food Sales understands the importance of extending product lines and has confirmed that Gold Kist and Chef's Corner are developing additional products to meet the requirements for SY 2013-2014.

Stay tuned for new product updates.

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The Whole Grain Shift

by barrykatz / 27. April 2012 03:58

The National School Lunch Program has released new regulations for participating schools that require at least half of the grains served to be whole grain-rich beginning July 1, 2012. While this change may present challenges for food service directors and their staff, we feel that it is important to highlight the benefits of transitioning to whole grain. 

In a natural state a kernel of grain has three parts: The bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outer skin and contains fiber, vitamin B and antioxidants. The germ is the embryo of the grain and contains more vitamin B, protein, minerals and healthy fats. The largest portion of the grain is the endosperm, which feeds the plant. The endosperm is mainly carbohydrates (starch), proteins and some minerals. Traditional flour milling techniques, to produce the white flour that consumers expect, remove the bran and the germ from the seed to produce a smooth white color.

A whole grain breading utilizes the plants whole kernel. This includes the fiber rich bran coating, the starchy endosperm and the nutrient rich germ. The bran and the germ appear to be largely responsible for the whole grain’s health benefits. The USDA now recommends that at least half of the daily grain servings should be whole grains. Each serving should provide a minimum of 2 grams of fiber.

Whole grains have proven to provide the following attributes:

  • Provide a primary source of soluble fiber
  • Provide antioxidants
  • Provide phytonutrients
  • Provide magnesium to utilize stored energy. (Proven to increase alertness in a learning environment)
  • Important source of B vitamins
  • Provide plant stanols and plant sterols to assist in blood pressure reduction

Whole grains have proven to provide the following benefits for the individuals who eat 3 or more whole grain servings daily:

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease by 20-40% by reducing cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and reducing blood coagulants.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes by 20-40% by assisting with the regulation of blood glucose levels.
  • Reduces the risk of several types of cancer including colon cancer.
  • Reduces levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Whole grain consumers typically weigh less than non-consumers. High fiber foods bind to fat molecules and are transported through the digestive system quicker reducing the amount of fat absorbed into the body.


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General | Nutrition

About Barry Katz

Barry started his career in the foodservice industry in 1970 as a manager for his family’s meat processing business. After a decade of on-the-job training, he opened his own brokerage company in 1980, and began selling to schools three years later. He has represented Silver Spring Farms since 1983 and Gold Kist since 1987, and proudly continues to sell their quality line of products today. In his spare time, Barry enjoys skiing and biking as well as working on photography. He lives in Maple Glen with his wife and their dog, Zoey.

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