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Commodity Processing: What's for Lunch?

Posted on May 29, 2015

Millions of lunches are served to students every day, thanks in part to Choice Partners cooperative. In Harris County schools alone, more than 85 million lunches are served annually that include food processed by Choice Partners contract holders and delivered from schedules coordinated by Choice Partners staff under guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA).

With more than 40 food manufacturers holding an HCDE-awarded commodities contract, Choice Partners cooperative offers many popular menu items, all produced according to the USDA nutrition guidelines. School districts choose the manufacturer and the type of unprocessed donated food commodity to be processed into healthy menu items that are then served in their schools. Truck loads of bulk product (e.g.  Chicken, pork, beef, fruits, vegetables and staples) are shipped to a manufacturer that follows USDA guidelines to process the commodity into nutritious prepared foods. These are delivered to a warehouse and then stored and loaded into trucks to be delivered to the school districts.

Choice Partners coordinates these truckloads to be processed, which gets the food from the plant to the tray.

While the majority of commodity contract users are in the greater Houston region, Choice Partners has member use from the valley, Dallas-Fort Worth and other regions. There are a number of regional food cooperatives in Texas, so when Choice Partners members are not able to build full truckloads (which is a requirement), Choice Partners and these other food cooperatives collaborate with the help of TDA to build a full truckload to be further processed.

The food commodity processing program offered by Choice Partners increases variety for students, while stretching school district food dollars.

In addition to the commodity processing program, Choice Partners offers contracts for healthy school foods and products, including

·         Bread Products

·         Chemical Products and Services

·         Commodity Processing

·         Dairy Products

·         Food Equipment and Small Wares

·         Food Service Management

·         Food Service Supplies

·         Fresh Produce

·         Frozen Beverages

·         Groceries

·         Ice Cream

·         Site Based Pizza Program

Contracts were recently renewed for many of these items and are effective Aug. 1, 2015.

For information on how to join, please Become A Member. There is no fee to join and members are not required to purchase specific amounts from these food contracts.

For more information, visit https://www.choicepartners.org/food or contact Trisha Jensen at Trisha@ChoicePartners.org.

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