Schools spent most money on dairy, milk purchases, says USDA

Report also finds apples to be the most commonly sourced local item.

School districts spent the most money on milk and other dairy products in school year 2009-2010, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dairy products, including milk, accounted for 22% of total food purchase in SY 2009-2010. Bakery products accounted for 14% of purchases; fruit and fruit juices, 13%; poultry, 11%; prepared foods 10%; and vegetables, 9%. Grain products represented 4% of total food purchases, a number that should increase with the new meal regulations.

The study also found that in SY 2009-2010, schools purchased food valued at more than $8.5 billion. Of that, 81% was purchased commercially; 11% from USDA Food donations; and 8% was a processed product containing donated USDA Foods.

Other findings reported in the report include:

  • Donated USDA Foods accounted for at least 40% of the value of cheese, turkey, beef and chicken, and nearly one-third of fruit purchased by districts.
  • Nearly one in five districts purchased locally grown produce. The most commonly purchased local item was apples.
  • More schools are purchasing items that offer convenience in terms of preparation and service. Purchases of prepared foods such as pizza and prepared sandwiches increased by 39% since the last study in SY 1996-1997, while prepared soup purchases increased 63%.

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