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USDA Foods Best Practices

"Sharing best practices and resources to help improve school meals"

On this page you will find recipes, meals ideas and resources updated periodically.

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


Partner with a local Chef

To boost meal program, connect with chefs in the community.

These connections focus on the unique needs of each school/agency and the individual expertise of each chef. Schools/agencies 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.

Reduce Food Waste

Help Prevent Wasted Food Booklet Cover  

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 administrator.


Student sampling strawberries and broccoli

Kids love samples! Willamina SD offers samples of USDA DoD Fresh strawberries and broccoli to students. What a great way to introduce students to new or unfamiliar foods. One small sample size portion is much less intimidating! Children respond favorably to repeated exposures of new foods and are more likely to consume school meals if they’re familiar with the foods. 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 children can identify what they are eating. Highlight information about food samples on the monthly menu to provide an educational component and encourage students to look forward to sampling days.

ODE Featured Recipes!

Recipe-Sharing Box.PNG

A collection of fantastic recipes that ODE has chosen that feature USDA Foods!

Agency Featured Recipes!

Pork Nachos

Submitted by: Bend-LaPine SD

Bend-LaPine Pork Nachos

Bend-LaPine features the USDA Foods Pork Roast #100173 and queso sauce made with USDA Foods sliced cheese #100018. "This easy-to-prepare dish 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.

Pork Nacho Ingredients

Pulled Pork Recipe for Nachos

Queso Cheese Sauce Recipe for Nachos

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.

Cherry Compote Recipe

Menu Planning Resources from External Partners


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

Child Nutrition Recipe Box

Healthy Recipes for Child Nutrition Professionals

Program contact and general e-mail support: ODE USDA Foods Program