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GDSN® Initiative

The USDA Foods in Schools/Child Nutrition USDA Foods Program supports domestic nutrition programs and American agricultural producers through purchases of 100% American-grown and -produced foods for use by schools and institutions participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Schools participating in NSLP receive USDA Foods, called “entitlement” foods, based on a per meal rate published annually for all lunches served during the previous school year. USDA purchases and coordinates the distribution of USDA Foods including U.S grown, processed, and packed high-quality vegetables, fruits, dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, and other protein options to over 100,000 public and private nonprofit schools that participate in NSLP.

The availability of vendor-specific USDA Foods information will inform the ordering decisions of FNS program stakeholders and provide critical product information in the absence of an FDA requirement for vendors to provide comprehensive product information on foods intended for institutional use. This information is necessary for schools to manage meal planning to meet USDA nutrition standards and provide safe meals for students with food allergies and other special dietary needs. This system benefits manufacturers and vendors by providing schools with the necessary nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information for USDA Foods products in a central database, offering increased confidence in and satisfaction with the products schools receive through USDA Foods. The GDSN initiative is helping USDA to fulfill a requirement to make nutrition, allergen, and ingredient information available for USDA Foods purchased for USDA Child Nutrition Programs.

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