Farm To School

Geographic Preference Option

Last Modified: 03/13/2014

The geographic preference option was authorized by Section 4302 of Public Law 110-246, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, which amended Section 9(j) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act allowing institutions receiving funds through the Child Nutrition Programs to apply an optional geographic preference in the procurement of unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products.

According to the final rule on Geographic Preference Option for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in Child Nutrition Programs the definition of “unprocessed” means those agricultural products that retain their inherent character. Consult the final rule for a list of allowable food handling and preservation techniques.

While a geographic preference may be used to encourage the purchase of locally grown and raised products by enabling an institution to grant an advantage to local growers, this preference does not eliminate the requirement for procurements to be conducted in a manner that allows for maximum free and open competition.

While the final rule of the geographic preference option states, when procuring local, unprocessed agricultural products, the discretion to define the local area for any geographic preference is left to the institution responsible for procurement, “local” must not be defined in a manner that unnecessarily restricts competition.

Consult FNS memoranda SP18-2011, Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As and SP03-2012, Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part II, for common questions on the implementation of the geographic preference option.

See Frequently Asked Questions for questions related to procurement methods and the geographic preference option.

See Developing Product Specifications for information writing product specifications.