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The opportunities for serving local foods in child nutrition programs are abundant. Not only can local foods span the plate, operators can serve local foods in all types of programs:

Defining Local for Your Program

It is up to you and to define what local means for your program, and there are many options! Local for one program operator might mean within the county, while local for another might include the entire state and even adjacent states. Definitions of local can vary depending on the season, type of product and may change by program or event.

Planning and Incorporating Local Food in Your Program

When planning how to integrate local items into meals, start by reviewing your menus to see what local foods you are already serving. Talking with suppliers and checking packaging and invoices for the city or state of origin may reveal that some menu items are already local. The next step is to determine how to feature additional local products. Here are some resources that can help you start planning and get started on incorporating local items:


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

Page updated: November 14, 2023