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USDA Foods Best Practices

This page is devoted to sharing best practices and resources that result in improving school meals and the USDA Foods program at the local level.

This page is being updated periodically so please keep checking back!

Spectacular examples of Oregon meals made for parent/student pick-up and home delivery using USDA Foods!


Weeks worth of veggies and fruit 

Title: Week's worth of veggies w/fruit

  • USDA Frozen Cherries (crumble)
  • USDA DoD Fresh Veggies

Photo courtesy of Central Point SD

Weeks worth assorted fruits

Title: Week's Worth of Student Fruit Packed

  • USDA Frozen Blueberries
  • USDA Frozen Strawberries
  • USDA Canned Applesauce
  • USDA Canned Mix Fruit

Photo courtesy of Central Point SD

Several days worth of veggies and fruit

Title: Several Days Worth of Student Fruit/Veggies

  • USDA DoD Fresh Fruits & Veggies

Photo courtesy of Central Point SD

Recipes Submitted by Oregon Schools

Submitted by: Bend-LaPine SD

Bend-LaPine Pork Nachos  
In this easy to prepare dish, Bend-LaPine features the USDA Foods Pork Roast #100173 and queso sauce made with USDA Foods sliced cheese #100018. "This is a very popular item that also uses queso sauce using commodity sliced cheese", said Bend-LaPine SD Executive Chef Tracie Surgeon. "You might want to share with other schools to show how easy it is to cook", said Bend-LaPine Executive Director of Operations Terry Cashman regarding the pulled pork recipe. Some garnishment and addition of milk, fruits and vegetables round out this appetizing and cost effective student lunch.

Brunch for Lunch!

Submitted by: Portland SD

Portland brunch lunch with USDA Foods cherries  
Portland features the USDA Foods frozen sweet cherries #110872, USDA canned peaches #100219, a local pear through the USDA Foods unprocessed F&V Pilot, turkey sausage links, local red potatoes and some veggies. "We heated these up as our compote over our pancakes for brunch. We have plans to use on our salad bars and cook up in crisps as well. So far we have great feedback!", said Portland SD Senior Director of Nutrition Services Whitney Ellersick.

Hot EntreesYakisoba noodles and chicken

Title: Yakisoba Noodles w/Chicken and Veggies

  • USDA Chicken Fajita Meat

Photo courtesy of Portland SD

Katsu Popcorn Chicken 

Title: Katsu Popcorn Chicken

  • USDA Diverted Popcorn Chicken
  • USDA Brown Rice

Photo courtesy of Bend-LaPine SD

Chicken and Potatoes 

Title: Chicken and Potatoes w/Gravy
  • USDA Chicken

Photo courtesy of Central Point SD

Title: Calzone
  • USDA Diverted Calzone
  • DoD Fresh Fruits & Veggies

Photo courtesy of Portland SD

To-go Mac and cheese entree

Title: Mac & Cheese with Greens Beans & Roll

  • USDA Pasta
  • USDA Cheese
  • USDA Green Beans
Photo courtesy of Central Point SD

Menu Planning Resources from External Partners

ChooseMyPlate - This fantastic site features recipes, infographics and resources for use by sponsors of Child Nutrition Programs.

Choose my plate

Child Nutrition Recipe Box - Healthy Recipes for Child Nutrition Professionals.

Child Nutrition Recipe Box. Healthy Recipes for Child Nutrition Professionals 

Partner with local chef to boost school meal program

Connect with chefs in the community. These connections focus on the unique needs of each school and the individual expertise of each chef. Schools and chefs can work in partnership to incorporate new menu items, offer culinary training to Child Nutrition staff, teach students the importance of healthy meals, and more. The creativity that chef’s bring to school meals can also build enthusiasm for the program among students, parents and teachers.

Cold Entrees

Chicken Taco Salad 

Title: Chicken Taco Salad

  • USDA Fajita Chicken
  • USDA DoD Fresh Veggies
  • USDA Canned Corn
  • USDA Canned Beans

Photo courtesy of Central Point SD

Three bean dip with chips

Title: Layered Three Bean Dip w/Tortilla Chips
  • USDA Cheese
  • USDA DoD Fresh Fruits/Veggies

Photo courtesy of Portland SD

Half sandwich with fruits and veggies
Title: Half Sandwich with Fruits/Veggies

  • USDA Cheese
  • USDA Sliced Ham/Turkey
  • USDA DoD Fresh Fruits/Veggies

Photo courtesy of Central Point

Taco salad

Title: Taco Salad

  • USDA Cheese
  • USDA DoD Fresh Fruits/Veggies

Photo courtesy of Portland SD

Marketing and Promotion Tips

Reduce Food Waste!

This booklet released by USDA discusses ways to reduce, recover, and recycle food before it goes to waste. Get ideas for your school by reading tips for school nutrition professionals, teachers, parents, students, and school administrators.

Help Prevent Wasted Food Booklet 

Share New Fruits and Vegetables with Sample TraysStudent sampling strawberries and broccoli

Pictured above, Willamina School District offers samples of USDA DoD Fresh strawberries and broccoli to students. Samples are a great way to introduce students to new or unusual foods. One small sample size portion is much less intimidating than an entire serving of an unfamiliar food. In addition, children respond favorably to repeat exposures of new foods and are more likely to consume school meals if they’re familiar with the foods being offered. Sample trays can also add a splash of color and excitement to your cafeteria. To further enhance your sample tray, consider including the fruit or vegetable in its whole form so the children can identify what they are eating and even find it in the grocery store. Highlight information about food samples on the monthly menu in order to provide an educational component and encourage students to look forward to sampling days.

If you would like to share quick tips, ideas or resources for best practices, please e-mail ODE USDA Food Distribution Program.

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