The USDA has gone digital, releasing an app called the Food Buying Guide. But the question is whether or not people that have already been using similar apps on their smartphones for five years or more will make the switch.
There is one difference—this one is designed specifically for the more than 280,000 child nutrition program operators, but many of them have sought other resources while the USDA was playing catch-up. The other mistake was not to make this available directly to consumers, as frankly it is one of the best and nonbiased food app resources available.
The USDA's Food and Nutrition Services sought feedback from stakeholders, and its goal is to become the essential resource for food yield information for all Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Back-of-house resources include information that helps operators know how much food to purchase, and how that food will contribute to the meal pattern requirements to ensure that children are getting proper nutrition through the programs.
The new app includes food yield search, comparison and navigation features for more than 2,100 foods typically served in Child Nutrition Program settings, and can help users create favorite-food lists. The app also provides program-specific information for meeting each meal pattern component, as well as additional menu planning resources.
The USDA says that using the app can result in cost savings and increased program efficiency, and also help improve program integrity by making it easier for program operators to adhere to federal nutrition requirements.