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Spring Cleaning: Get compliant & increase participation

Along with the scent of blossoming flowers, longer days, and easy breezy weather comes annual Spring Cleaning! We will provide 3 easy steps for a Spring Cleaning that will lead to a more organized and smooth-running department. How can it be that easy? We will share step by step method that works! Here are the 3 Easy Steps to a more organized department.

1. Declutter the Labels 2. Clean and Organize the Recipes 3. Spruce Up the Menus


Step #1

Declutter the Labels

Reviewing and organizing the labels is the first step is getting the office decluttered from all of those labels. We understand first-hand what a task this is with the ever-growing label books and ingredients. Taking some time to assess and purge is a perfect spring activity.

Understanding the Regs

Understanding the regulations is key to getting this process started! The regulations require that districts collect and maintain food product labels for all menu items. Also, that they must be kept on file for 3 years (plus the current year). The label types that are available:

Nutrition Facts Labels

Child Nutrition Labels (CN)

Product Formulation Statements (PFS)

All menu items need to have a Nutrition Facts label or the nutritional breakdown on file. But not all menu items need a CN label or a PFS! A CN label or a PFS is required for all processed foods. This means that any heat and serve, for example a less than 100% beef patty, will require a CN label or a PFS. When it comes to CN labels, the manufacturer is held responsible for the accuracy of their statement, so they can be taken at face value. But that is not the case with Product Formulation Statements. The responsibility for assuring that the PFS is accurate and complete falls onto the district. Also, PFS must be signed and dated with the current school year to be valid.


We found a great resource from USDA explaining the regulations and provides more details.

Spring into Action

1. Collect. Find all the labels from the kitchens and/or office. 2. Purge. Place the discounted items and outdated labels in a file box. Remember to keep them for 3-years. 3. Check. Make sure there is a label(s) for every CURRENT food item on every menu, whether the item is made from scratch or convenience. 4. Search. Collect updated labels on those that are needed. 5. Organize. Explore some electronic options to keep the department in compliance. Most of the menu planning software allows the attachment of label(s) to each ingredient. WE LOVE this feature! If that is not an option, create a label binder or use a file folder. Organize by food type or component -- just have a process in place.

Pressed for time? If you're in a time crunch, think about one of the Label Update Services offered by My K12 Resource. There is a once a year Summer Label Update Services and a Label Maintenance Services that can save lots of time.

Step #2

Clean & Organize the Recipes

Is the recipe book overflowing or the database full of recipes are never used? Now is a great time to archive and organize those recipes. By doing so, menu creation can be that much easier. Also, this can assist in keeping compliant!

Understanding the Regs

It is required that Standardized Recipes be used for the Child Nutrition Programs including the National School Nutrition & Breakfast Programs. This regulation helps keep things consistent and most importantly ensuring that the students receive the correct components. Standardizing a recipe is a "guidance" and may vary from state to state. However, there are some basics to look for:

Yield & Serving Size

Specific Ingredient(s) (form, state, etc)

Weight & Measures of the Ingredients



Components per serving

Another important reason to review the recipes is to get prepared for the Administrative Review. Recipes are a large part of the menu review portion of the AR and ensuring they are present and contain the key components are key!


A great resource for sizing is the Conversion Chart by NFSMI. This is a great resource to make sure yield changes are accurate and a quick reference for scoop sizes.

Spring into Action

1. Collect. All the recipes and match to the current menu 2. Create. If there are any missing recipes create a new recipe 3. Review. Ensure that each recipe meets state and federal regulations 4. Clean Up. If using an electronic menu planning software, are there old and outdated recipes? Are all the recipes entered into the database? Pull all old recipes out of the binder. Remember to keep documents for 3 years. 5. Organize. Recipes should be organized and available at each kitchen. Use an electronic filing system such as a shared drive or menu planning software to reduce paper cost. In the kitchen, if they do not have access to a computer, use recipe binders.

Let us help out! Our team of experts can perform a quick and mighty recipe review! Send us a quick email for details.


Step #3

Spruce Up the Menu The final step of our Spring Cleaning up the department is to spruce up the menus! Look to add some new menu items by taking this time to do some taste testing with students. Maybe even conduct a survey or a recipe contest. This is also a great way to start planning for next school year with some fresh and new menu items. There are countless resources from USDA, food vendors, state agencies, and other school districts.


Check out a few of our favorite recipe resources!

USDA What's Cooking- Updated 2018 WA State Schools "Scratch Cooking" Recipe Book

Spring into Action

1. Identify. Pick some recipes that are interesting from staff, students, or by conducting research. 2. Prepare. Make the recipe and have the staff try it out. If there is a thumbs up, move on to the students. A quick survey or a tally sheet can be used to gauge the student's interest. 3. Add. Menu the "approved" recipes! Voila!

Getting the labels, recipes, and menus cleaned, organized, and spruced up will ensure that the department is running in tip-top shape! Any questions that may come up, don’t hesitate to email us!

Have topics you would like to know about? Drop us a comment!

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