From beef and bison in Montana to apples in Michigan and radishes in Rhode Island, local foods are on the menu for students across the country. Local procurement not only supports increasing economic opportunities for local farmers, but also helps schools and other institutions incorporate wholesome local foods into program meals and encourage children to make healthy food choices. The resources on this page will help ensure child nutrition program operators have the resources and knowledge necessary to incorporate local foods into their day-to-day operations. While many of the resources featured here were developed with K-12 schools in mind, much of the information is equally relevant to early childcare institutions and facilities, as well as summer feeding sites.
Federal Procurement Rules Have Changed
On Oct. 30, 2019, FNS published the Memorandum SP20 CACFP07, SFSP06-2019 “Revised, Federal Micro-Purchase and Simplified Acquisition Thresholds”. This memorandum supersedes SP01 CACFP01, SFSP01-2013. The thresholds under federal financial assistance awards are increased as follows: the federal micro-purchase threshold increased from $3,500 to $10,000 and the federal simplified acquisition threshold (formerly known as the federal small purchase threshold) increased from $150,000 to $250,000. In 2021, OMB updated the uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for federal awards (2 CFR 200.320). The updated regulations allow for program operators to self-certify an increased micro-purchase threshold of up to $50,000, and even over $50,000 in some situations, as long as regulatory requirements are followed. The information is also reflected in the memorandum SP 02-2022, CACFP 03-2022; SFSP 01-2022. This guidance applies to all federal micro-purchase threshold and federal simplified acquisition threshold figures referenced throughout the following documents. Program operators can check with their state agency points of contact for questions or guidance about procurement regulations.
The Revised Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide is Now Available!
The USDA Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide provides an overview of federal procurement principles and covers a host of topics related to sourcing and purchasing local foods for state agencies and child nutrition program operators. This guide highlights the variety of mechanisms schools can use to purchase local products while staying in accordance with federal procurement regulations. The guide features examples of how to target local foods when conducting both formal and informal procurements, use the geographic preference option, and use the USDA Foods and DoD Fresh Programs to enhance local purchasing.
Availability: All are welcome to download these materials. If you have difficulty opening any of these files in your Internet browser, please right-click on the link and “save link as” to download.
- Finding, Buying, and Serving Local Foods Webinar Series
The Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program hosted a series of webinars that showcase a variety of ways school districts can purchase local foods. The series starts with an introduction to basic procurement principles and walks participants through strategies and tactics for procuring local foods.
The entire series can be viewed online:
- Introduction to Procurement
- Conducting a Local Procurement Baseline Assessment
- Finding Local Producers
- Using the Informal Procurement Method
- Using the Specifications, Requirements and Evaluation Criteria to Target Local Products
- Working with Distributors
- Using a Forward Contract
- Introduction to Geographic Preference
- Using Geographic Preference
- Using USDA Foods as Resource to Purchase Local
- Using DoD Fresh to Purchase Local
- Tying It All Together and Digging In
- Fact Sheets
- Using DOD Fresh to Buy Local
- Geographic Preference: What It Is and How To Use It
- Selling Local Food to Schools: A Resource for Producers
- USDA Foods: A Resource for Buying Local
- Local Meat in Schools: Increasing Opportunities for Small and Mid-Sized Livestock
- Ranchers and Fishers
- Policy Memos & Regulations
- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023: Effect on Child Nutrition Programs (SP 06-2023, CACFP 05-2023, SFSP 02-2023) This memo provides notice regarding the renaming of the USDA Farm to School Program. Under Section 777 of the Appropriations Act, Congress changes the name of the USDA Farm to School Program, authorized in the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, 42 USC 1769(g), to the “Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program.” The new program name honors the longtime farm to school leadership of former U.S. Senator from Vermont Patrick Leahy. This change is effective immediately and requires no action by CNP operators. Published March 3, 2023.
- Local Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meal Programs (SP07 SFSP07-2016) This memo provides guidance on the incorporation of local foods and nutrition and agriculture-based activities into summer meal programs. A growing body of research demonstrates several positive impacts of serving local foods and providing food education through child nutrition programs, including increased participation and engagement in meal programs, consumption of healthier options, and support of local economies. Published Nov. 12, 2015.
- Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs for Child Nutrition Programs (SP01 CACFP01 SFSP01-2016) We’ve received a variety of questions related to purchasing local meat products and this memo outlines the food safety requirements for purchasing and serving poultry, livestock, game and eggs in child nutrition programs. Published Oct. 22, 2015.
- Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods (TA01-2015) Through this memo USDA reinforces that many traditional foods can contribute towards reimbursable meals in CNPs. Published July 15, 2015.
- Use of State Administrative Expense (SAE) Funds and State Administrative Funds (SAF) for Farm to School Related Expenses (SP28-2015) This memo clarifies and highlights the uses of state administrative expense (SAE) funds, both as initially allocated and when reallocated, and state administrative funds (SAF) for state-level coordination of farm to school activities related to the administration of the child nutrition programs (CNPs). Published March 13, 2015.
- Local Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP11-2015) This memo provides guidance on the incorporation of local foods and agriculture-based curriculum in early childhood education and care settings. Published March 13, 2015.
- Farm to School and School Garden Expenses (SP06-2015) This memo clarifies the flexibility schools have in spending funds on school garden and farm to school efforts. Published Nov. 12, 2014.
- Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part II (SP03 CACFP02 SFSP02-2013) A memo addressing additional questions regarding application of the geographic preference option and other mechanisms for local procurement. Published Oct. 9, 2012.
- Final Rule: Geographic Preference Option – The final rule, published in the Federal Register, includes a summary, background, and final regulatory language, by program, for the geographic preference option. Published April 22, 2011.
- Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part I (SP18-2011) A memo addressing questions regarding application of the geographic preference option. Published Feb. 1, 2011.
- School Garden Q&As(SP32-2009) This memo clarifies, among other things, that funds from the nonprofit school food service account can be used to purchase seeds and other supplies for starting and maintaining school gardens. Published July 29, 2009.
Hungry for more information?
Please go to the Farm to School Fact Sheets Page.
For more information and to sign up for the Dirt, the e-letter from the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program, visit www.fns.usda.gov/f2s/e-letter-archive.