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News | Sept. 29, 2017

DoD Fresh program highlighted in new video

By DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

The partnership between the Defense Logistics Agency and the Department of Agriculture that helps provide fresh fruits and vegetables to school children is highlighted in a new DLA video.

Subsistence acquisition professionals in DLA Troop Support manage the DoD Fresh Program, and in coordination with the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, they provide fresh produce to 12,000 schools in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

The partnership started in 1993, when USDA representatives saw advantages in partnering with DLA Troop Support, Kathleen Staley of USDA’s Food Distribution Division said in the video.

“We looked around, and lo and behold, the Department of Defense provides food for all of their military bases and has a wonderful procurement system – the Defense Logistics Agency.” she said. “When you talk about partnership, I think this is a great success story between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense, leveraging existing systems and providing a healthy, nutritious, high-quality product.”

DLA Troop Support uses its large-scale buying power and its large network of produce suppliers to help meet the demand for consistent, weekly deliveries of a wide variety of fresh produce to school cafeterias, central kitchens and state distribution centers.

Pat Scott, division chief of garrison feeding in Subsistence, said the success of the partnership is largely due to Subsistence field representatives who work with customers.

“We have our customer reps throughout the United States that are hands-on, face-to-face with customers. They’re the go-to person whenever there’s any kind of problems or issues,” she said.

Kimberly Williams, a food service administrator with Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., said the online ordering system is user-friendly and provides access to a large variety of produce.

“It’s super-easy to order online,” she said. “And so our kids are exposed to so many more things besides the typical fruits and vegetables you might see in the grocery store.”

The partnership also makes financial sense for many schools that purchase fresh produce with food entitlement funds provided by the USDA.

Cindy Hormel, the school nutrition program director for Alexandria Public Schools in Virginia, said, “As a food service director, I am very appreciative that this opportunity is provided to us in a way that we can use our entitlement dollars, and in some aspects, it even allows us to stretch our entitlement dollars.”

The top 10 fruits and vegetables ordered in school year 2016-17 were:

  1. Apple Slices
  2. Strawberries
  3. Apples
  4. Romaine Salad Mix
  5. Oranges
  6. Pears
  7. Cucumbers
  8. Broccoli Florets
  9. Spinach
  10. Celery Sticks

Visit the USDA’s DOD Fresh program website for more information.