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Important - Please Note

As of July 1, 2024, the Geographic Preference option has expanded. We are working to update the resources on this page to reflect the new rule.

Local foods are on the menu for students across the country. Beef and bison in Montana, cherries in Michigan, and radishes in Rhode Island are a few examples. Local procurement in school meals supports local farmers. Students are also encouraged to make healthier choices when provided locally grown options.

The resources on this page will help Child Nutrition Program (CNP) operators buy local. Many of the resources speak to K-12 school program operators. However, the information still applies to child care providers and summer feeding sites.

USDA Publishes Final Rule Expanding Geographic Preference for Child Nutrition Program Purchasing

On April 25, 2024, USDA published the final rule, Child Nutrition Programs: Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The final rule includes an expansion of the geographic preference option, which now permits child nutrition program (CNP) operators to use "locally grown", "locally raised", or "locally caught" as a specification when procuring unprocessed agricultural products. The expanded option is effective July 1, 2024. Using geographic preference continues to be an optional and powerful method for procuring local foods for healthy program meals.

New Geographic Preference Resources

Resources That Will be Updated

Note: These resources will be updated to include information on the expanded geographic preference option, which allows using local as a specification as of July 1, 2024; for more information on this change please see Geographic Preference Expansion Related to the Final Rule Titled, Child Nutrition Programs: Meal Patterns Consistent with the 2020-2025 Guidelines for Americans

Documents in their current form provide information on using geographic preference through a scoring system, which is now referred to as a "defined scoring option." However, the content related to the prohibition of using local as a specification is no longer correct.

Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide

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 ways schools can 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 to use the geographic preference option, and use the USDA Foods and DoD Fresh Programs to enhance local purchasing.

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.

Fact Sheets

See more fact sheets

Policy Memos & Regulations
Hungry for more information?

Please go to the Farm to School Fact Sheets Page.

Get more information and sign up for the Dirt, the e-letter from the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program.

Page updated: July 08, 2024