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Local Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
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Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (291.58 KB)
DATE: March 13, 2015
SUBJECT: Local Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program with Questions and Answers
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance on the incorporation of local foods and agriculture-based curriculum in early childhood education and care settings. The memorandum also clarifies policies in the recently published FNS Instruction 796-2, Revision 4, Financial Management in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) relevant to local food production and procurement. Finally, this memorandum includes questions and answers regarding procuring local food for use in the CACFP, growing food for use in CACFP, and donations.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to expand the purpose of the CACFP to “provide aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons” [42 USC 1766(a)(1)(A)(ii)]. Further, Section 243 of the HHFKA established a Farm to School Program at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase the availability of local foods in schools and institutions. FNS continues to provide grants and technical assistance to implement Farm to School programs that improve access to local foods in the child nutrition programs, including CACFP.

The incorporation of local food and agricultural education into CACFP can play an important role in creating and promoting a healthy environment. There is a well established and growing public interest in supporting local and regional food systems by purchasing these foods and incorporating agricultural-based curriculum and activities into early childhood education and care. Program administrators and partners are therefore encouraged to use local food as a means to enhance CACFP operations.

The recently issued FNS Instruction 796-2, Revision 4, Financial Management of the CACFP, now categorizes costs associated with growing food that will be used in the CACFP, either as part of the meal service or for activities related to nutrition education to food service staff, as allowable. These costs may include seeds, fertilizer, labor, plot rental, etc. Institutions are subject to 7 CFR 226.22 and therefore must conduct all procurements in accordance with 2 CFR 200.317-326. These procurement standards must be followed regardless of dollar amount, meal served or purchasing frequency. Facilities, such as day care homes and sponsored centers are encouraged to purchase in a way that promotes open and fair competition. For more information, see

State agencies are reminded to distribute this information to program operators immediately. Program operators should direct any questions regarding this memorandum to the appropriate state agency. State agency contact information is available at State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela Kline
Policy and Program Development Division
Child Nutrition Programs


Page updated: April 07, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.