Thursday, April 22, 2021

Ways to Incorporate International Food into Your Cafeteria

Hola, Bonjour, Nin Hao, Konnichiwa, Guten Tag, and Hello from AEA Purchasing! 

As we roll into May, we approach the ever popular day to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a day rich with tradition, people and of course, the food of the Mexican culture! With its deep earthiness and at the same time vibrant flavors, Mexican dishes can usually be found at the top of many people's list of favorite cuisines. 

When planning a themed meal for Cinco de Mayo, many schools turn to tacos, taco salads, walking tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and enchiladas galore to fill the trays of our kiddos. The popularity of this international food got the food program staff at AEA Purchasing thinking about other international foods and how school staff could possibly incorporate them into their menus using items currently found on our market basket list, provided via our contract with Martin Bros

There are certainly some very popular international food choices that all schools serve (Italian fare, for example) and some that only particular schools serve based on the ethnic makeup of their district. Below are some ways to incorporate even more international foods onto your trays.  These ideas might seem unconventional for some of you, but for others, they just might be the change that is needed to spice up your menus and offer something completely different! If you do find interest in trying any of these ideas, please feel free to reach out to us and we can provide further assistance and a standardized recipe for the dish.

  • Asian Noodle Bowls: Noodle bowls don't have to be difficult to prepare on a lunch line. They can be as simple as preparing a taco salad. Noodle bowls are typically done with Asian noodles, but there are no rules are saying you can't use spaghetti (MB#480780, MB#480442), fettuccini (MB#984298, MB#480640), or even narrow egg noodles (MB#480790) to serve as the base. Once the noodles are added to your bowl, pour on your hot flavored broth. Next, you will want to add a hot meat option, such as sliced grilled chicken (MB#975890) or even fajita strip chicken (MB#353100). Shredded pork (MB#910370) and shredded beef (MB#318930) would be great options as well. After the meat, vegetables will be the next layer of your bowl and are typically raw or blanched and cooled. Traditional veggies might include matchstick carrots (MB#360251), thinly sliced radishes (MB#361315), cilantro, shredded cabbage (MB#380260), slivered green onions (MB#361013), roasted corn kernels (MB#962388), or black beans (MB#600140). Sliced lemons (MB#376111) or limes as a garnish are a great addition to make all the flavors pop. Easy as that, right?

  • Pad Thai: Pad Thai is a very popular and trendy dish that high schoolers might recognize. Pad Thai is a noodle dish that has a sweet, acidic, peanut-based sauce with various veggies and meats but can also be served with veggies on the side.  For the noodles, try using cooked spaghetti or fettuccine noodles tossed in a sauce made of broth, peanut butter, and sugar plus a few other ingredients.  Toss your pasta in the sauce and add additional items such as diced chicken (MB#952240), scrambled eggs (MB#975300), matchstick carrots, sliced bell peppers (MB#361251) or use a frozen veggie blend such as the fajita vegetable blend (MB#964090). Once you plate up this noodle dish, top it with fresh cilantro, slivered green onions, and a lime wedge and you will have a mock Pad Thai that will be talked about all over school!

  • Korean Beef Street Tacos with Kimchi (spicy cabbage slaw) and Sriracha Mayo: A great spin on the traditional taco and a very trendy way to add a unique menu item. For the taco meat, use ground beef (beef crumbles work great) seasoned with soy sauce and sugar and a few other key ingredients. Traditional kimchi is fermented napa cabbage, but the flavors can be mimicked using shredded cabbage (MB#380268) marinated in a spicy Asian vinaigrette.  You can make Sriracha mayo easily with just three ingredients -- mayo, Sriracha (MB#90592591), and limes. The tacos are assembled by taking two 6-inch tortillas (MB#948450, MB#951260) topped with beef mixture, kimchi, and drizzled with mayo. You can garnish with fresh cilantro and/or slivered green onions.

  • Indian Curried Beef Stew, Garlic Naan, and Mango Chutney – There is nothing better than scooping up this spice-loaded meat and sauce combination with some yummy flatbread (Naan) and garnish with sweet and vinegary fruit (Chutney).  You begin making your stew by cooking beef shreds (MB#318930), minced onions, prepared roasted beef gravy (MB#525150), and add to taste an Indian spice blend.  Garlic Naan is made by toasting flatbread (MB#906630, MB#926250) covered with garlic butter.  Mango chutney is made by cooking diced mangoes (MB#965510) with various spices and sugar until thickened. Serve the Garlic Naan and Mango Chutney on the side of the beef stew so the bread can be used to spoon up the wonderfully spiced meat sauce and top with a small amount of the sweet Chutney.

  • Schnitzel -- Ok, last crazy idea for you all.  We certainly have some great German heritage in Iowa and I was thinking why not serve some traditional German fare or have an Oktoberfest-themed menu (skip the adult beverages though). Schnitzel - a simple dish that can be mimicked using CN approved breaded meat options.  Schnitzel is traditionally lightly breaded veal fried and served with mushroom gravy.  You can accomplish this same dish using a breaded chicken (MB#978160, MB#979840), pork (MB#912008, MB#979800), or beef (MB#307320) patty.  Serve it with plain gravy or add the mushrooms (MB#601370). You can make it a full German-themed meal by adding a dinner roll or micro-purchase some spaetzle (German dumplings #983770), plus a nice green leaf salad, German Potato Salad, fruit, and milk.

  • German Potato Salad - most kitchens will have a staff member that claims to have the best German Potato Salad.  A tangy, typically warm, bacon potato salad that is phenomenal served with Schnitzel.  Take cooked diced potatoes (MB#601900, MB#960760), add cooked onions and bacon, and toss in the warm sugary vinaigrette. Super delicious. 

These are just a few different international food ideas that can be mimicked in your school's lunch menu. Some of them are out there and it will take a brave soul or adventurous eaters to try them, but hopefully they at least sparked an idea of what could be possible in your individual program.  If you ever want to talk out these ideas or get a standardized recipe, please feel free to contact the AEA Purchasing food program team. If you have a unique international dish that you already provide to your kids, we would love to hear about it. 

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

School Communication is EASY with Intrado SchoolMessenger!

For over 20 years, Iowa school administrators have relied on Intrado SchoolMessenger products.

Now, as we return from COVID-19, having trusted, established communications and school safety platforms are more important than ever. You need to be able to communicate with parents effectively while maintaining a safe environment for your school community.

Solve all your school communication needs here.

Below are a few featured products that address those needs for Iowa schools and are covered under the AEA Purchasing contract (bid reference: WCM2015AEAPURCH):

  • NEW! Intrado Safety Shield – This award-wining and unique end-to-end safety management platform comes complete with a mobile panic button, digital EOPs, direct 9-1-1 integration, direct school roster data integration, safety drill management, and so much more.

    Safety Shield is the perfect solution for meeting Iowa Reunification Plan standards, it even has tools to help identify and locate missing students and ensure that students are only reunited with custodial parents and guardians.

    Put safety in the hands of your staff members with our digital EOPs and role-specific emergency response checklists. Give staff a panic button that provides first responders with full situational awareness (floor plans, onsite contact info, locations of special needs students, and more).

  • SchoolMessenger Presence – Like this website? It’s made on SchoolMessenger Presence & yours can be too. Our attractive, accessible designs look great on any device and have an easy-to-use website management interface. Various levels of design are available to meet your needs.    Check out the Design Library here.

  • SchoolMessenger Communicate – The most trusted school communications product in North America. SchoolMessenger Communicate is relied on by the majority of Iowa school districts (and over 63,000 schools in North America) to send timely text/email/voice/social/RSS/push notifications. Keep all parents engaged with fully equitable communication channels. Includes a free app for parent/teacher messaging, all message archival/retrieval and allows parents to set preference controls. 

Intrado SchoolMessenger looks forward to continuing to partner with AEA Purchasing and schools in Iowa and solving school communications and safety needs for districts just as we have for the past 20 years. Learn more about all of our products for Iowa schools here.

For complete contract information and how to save purchasing through the AEA Purchasing contract, be sure to visit Intrado SchoolMessenger's profile page on

For questions on how Intrado SchoolMessenger can best serve your school/district, contact:

Jeff Jennings
SchoolMessenger | Intrado Solutions
888-527-5225 x1426

*Be sure to reference AEA Purchasing bid WCM2015AEAPURCH when contacting the company.

Happy saving!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Little Book, BIG Potential...with PITSCO Education!

Get your hands on hands-on early-learning products!

Pitsco Education is excited to launch the very first Little Book catalog! The inaugural Little Book was launched at the beginning of April, and, with a plethora of hands-on learning products, the book relays a fresh and fun way to introduce our new solutions that reach pre-K to Grade 2 students. 

Explore the following products or access the interactive catalog now! 

If a physical copy is what you prefer, request one here.

Be sure to enter AEPA22 at checkout for the exclusive discount of 2% off your purchase along with free shipping!

For all the details on the AEA Purchasing contract with Pitsco Education and ways you can save on their products, visit their profile page on!

Happy saving!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Spring Savings from FSG Lighting

Facility Solutions Group (FSG), AEA Purchasing's awarded vendor for LED lighting (bid AEPA#018-B).

If you are looking to update and replace your lighting this spring, in addition to savings on their entire catalog of products, FSG has the following SPRING promotions available while supplies last! 

Slam Dunk! Promo (while supplies last thru 5/15/21)
Maxlite Promo

In addition to lighting, many schools are also looking for ways to safely re-open or increase daily student capacity in the building. FSG has products to assist in those efforts as well:

  • Germicidal UVC and NPBI (needlepoint bipolar ionization) have both been proven to inactive pathogens including mold, bacteria and viruses like Covid19.
  • Indoor air quality funding is available through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.
  • FEMA funds and finance options are also available.
  • Products like the 4-n-1 Omni Cart utilize HEPA filtration, germicidal UVC light and needlepoint bipolar ionization to effectively sanitize air and surfaces. 
For more information or to design a solution for your school please contact: 

Facility Solutions Group 
*Bid Reference: AEPA IFB 018-B LED Lighting
Jennifer Mercer
National CO-OP Manager

Alyssa Mika
Inside Sales and Customer Support

Monday, April 12, 2021

Quality Meets Value: School Smart by School Specialty

Let your supply budgets go further with School Specialty's School Smart brand of products. With a complete catalog of everyday classroom and school office products at the same — or better — quality as national brands, School Smart is brand you can trust and rely on. 

Learn more about School Smart's quality products and satisfaction guarantee at

For more information on the AEA Purchasing contract with School Specialty and their entire line up of brands, visit their profile page on our website! The following brands (and more!) are covered under contract:
  • Abilitations: Special needs resources
  • Childcraft: PreK-2 early childhood resources & furniture
  • Classroom Select: Furniture manufacturer
  • Education Essentials: Classroom & office supplies, teaching aides
  • EPS Coach: Instruction & intervention
  • Frey Scientific: K-12 Science resources
  • Projects by Design: Turnkey solution to equip new & renovated spaces
  • Sax: K-12 art resources
  • Sportime: Physical education resources & curriculum
  • SSI Guardian: Safety & security products & training
Happy saving!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Vendor Feature: SHI International

SHI International is one of AEA Purchasing's awarded vendors serving your school technology needs. From charging carts to 3D printers, SHI International is here to help Iowa schools keep up to speed with the latest and greatest technology!

Contract benefits include line-item pricing on the following items:

Anywhere Charging Carts
SeaGate External Hard Drive
Kensington Presentation Remote & Splitter
Multi-Card Reader
Digital Storage
                                                      MakerBot 3D Printer
                                                      Wireless Adapter
                                                      Logitech Video Collaboration Camera

For more information on what's available under our contract with SHI International and how to SAVE on your future technology purchases, visit SHI International's profile page on our website or contact:

SHI International
Bid Reference: STB2020AEAPURCH 
Kyle Thomas
SM SLED Manager

Happy saving!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Summer 2021 Paper Buy is Open NOW!

AEA Purchasing is pleased to announce that our Summer 2021 Paper Buy is NOW open! 

This season's buy will be serviced through our competitively bid and awarded contract with The Paper Corporation out of Des Moines.

Orders may be submitted now through May 21, 2021. 

Complete details, along with order forms, can be found online here.

*Look under the pricing tab for the link to download the order form.

+All deliveries are planned to be completed by September 3, 2021.

Should you have questions regarding how to order, your order status, or about the paper options specifically, please contact The Paper Corporation directly.  

The Paper Corporation
Mary Cross (Ordering Questions)
(800) 369-8733 ext. 419

Richard Johnson (Paper Questions)
(800) 369-8733 ext. 425

If you have questions regarding the bid process please feel free to contact AEA Purchasing.  

Finally, we'd hate for any school to miss out on this great purchasing opportunity! Please be sure to check with anyone in your district who orders cut paper and make sure they receive this message. Order forms are available ONLINE ONLY. There will be no hard copies delivered via AEA van mail delivery. 

AEA Purchasing! | Strategic Sourcing. Sensational Service!