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Procurement Geographic Preference Q and A

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: School Nutrition Programs Sponsors

Number: USDA-SNP-19-2012

Attention: Food Service Director

Date: May 2012

Subject: Procurement Geographic Preference Question and Answers

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, parts 210, 215, 220, 225, and 226; U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy Memo SP 30-2008, SP 01-2010, SP 18-2011, and SP 14-2012; Management Bulletin USDA-SNP-13-2009

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides further clarification to the August 2009 guidance distributed by the California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division, regarding changes in federal law that encourage School Food Authorities (SFA) operating School Nutrition Programs to purchase unprocessed, locally grown, and locally raised agricultural products.

In light of recent Farm to School efforts to connect schools with local or regional farmers and the need for guidance and technical assistance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created Question and Answers (Q&As) to further explain the geographic preference option. The USDA Q&A memo is available on the USDA Web page at

The memo addresses questions in a number of areas, including:

  • What meal programs are affected by the geographic preference option
  • Who defines “geographic area” and what is considered “local”
  • How to apply geographic preference to purchase unprocessed, locally grown, and locally raised agricultural products

Please Note: The USDA has revised their Buy America procurement provision and the information below supersedes the answer to Question 11 in the USDA geographic preference Q&A.

Question: Are there any exceptions to the requirements of the Buy American provision?

Answer: Yes. While rare, two situations that may warrant a waiver to permit purchases of foreign food products are include: 1) the product is not produced or manufactured in the U.S. in sufficient and reasonable available quantities of a satisfactory quality; or and 2) competitive bids reveal the costs of a U.S. product is significantly higher than the foreign product.

If you have questions regarding this MB, please contact a contract specialist (assigned by county), listed on the form Caseload in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System, under Applications, Download Forms..

Questions:   School Food Service Contracts Unit | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

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