Secondary menu

Community Food Systems

Procuring Local Foods

Last Published: 09/11/2017

From beef and bison in Montana to apples in Michigan and radishes in Rhode Island, local foods are on the menu. 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.  And 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 facilities and summer feeding sites.

cover imageGuide: Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs

Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. This version incorporates information about micro-purchases, buying local foods for child care and summer meal programs and more real-world examples. Check out the guide for sample solicitation language, detailed geographic preference examples and helpful resources.

Need to print in a hurry? Check out the printer-friendly version of Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs for all the same content, just in black and white.

Local Procurement Decision Tree

"Local" can't be used as a specification, but there are many ways to buy local products. This "decision tree" presents several options for including your desire for local products in your procurement process.

Finding, Buying, and Serving Local Foods Webinar Series

In 2014, the USDA Farm to School Program hosted webinars to showcase the variety of ways school districts can purchase local foods. The series starts with an introduction to basic procurement principles, and then walks participants through strategies and tactics for buying local foods. The entire series can be viewed online:

1. Introduction to Procurement
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with general procurement resources here.

2. Conducting a Local Procurement Baseline Assessment
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

3. Finding Local Producers
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

4. Using the Informal Procurement Method
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

5. Using the Specifications, Requirements and Evaluation Criteria to Target Local Products
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

6. Working with Distributors
Download a PDF of the slides here  and a handout with helpful resources here.

7. Using a Forward Contract
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

8. Introduction to Geographic Preference
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

9. Using Geographic Preference
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

10. Using USDA Foods as Resource to Purchase Local
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

11. Using DoD Fresh to Purchase Local
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

12. Tying It All Together and Digging In
Download a PDF of the slides here and a handout with helpful resources here.

Fact Sheetsfact sheets

See more fact sheets here >

Policy Memos & Regulations

  • Local Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meal Programs SP-07-2016, SFSP-07-2016 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 November 12, 2015.
  • Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs for Child Nutrition Programs SP 01-2016, CACFP 01-2016, SFSP 01-2016 - 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 October 22, 2015.
  • Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods TA 01-2015 – 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 SP 28-2015 – 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 CACFP 11-2015 – 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  SP 06 -2015 – This memo clarifies the flexibility schools have in spending funds on school garden and farm to school efforts. Published November 12, 2014.
  • Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part II SP 03-2013, CACFP 02-2013, SFSP 02-2013 – A memo addressing additional questions regarding application of the geographic preference option and other mechanisms for local procurement. Published October 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 SP 18 - 2011 – A memo addressing questions regarding application of the geographic preference option. Published February 1, 2011.
  • School Garden Q&As  SP 32-2009 – 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.

cover imageProcuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Training

The Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Program Facilitator's Guide and PowerPoint presentation is available on the Institute of Child Nutrition’s website. State agencies and child nutrition program operators can request the training as a half-day, full-day or two-day training. The Facilitator's Guide digests the material from the Procuring Local Foods Guide into a script, while also offering tips for conducting a successful training and incorporating interactive exercises.

Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables

The 2014 Farm Bill directs USDA to conduct a pilot for the procurement of unprocessed fruits and vegetables using USDA Foods entitlement dollars. The legislation allows the use of geographic preference and encourages the procurement of local products. For more information about how states and schools can use this pilot, see the FNS pilot website and for more information about how vendors can participate, see the AMS pilot website