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School Food Best Practices Funds


The School Food Best Practices (SFBP) Funding allocation provides eligible local educational agencies (LEA) with state funds to implement any of the school food best practices stated in Assembly Bill (AB) 181 as part of serving reimbursable meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP).

Overview

On June 30, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 181 (Statutes of 2022) into law. This law appropriated $100 million from the State of California’s General Fund to the California Department of Education (CDE) to distribute to LEAs to expend on implementing any of the following best practices for school meals:

  • Procuring California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods to support equity in the procurement practices of local agencies;
  • Using California-grown, whole or minimally processed foods in plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils;
  • Procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils in the procurement practices of LEAs; or
  • Freshly preparing meals on site.

Funds will be allocated to eligible LEAs, defined in statute as school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools that sponsor the USDA NSLP or SBP. Funding amounts are determined by the number of LEAs registering for funds and calculations as directed in statute.

These funds must be encumbered by June 30, 2025, and must be used for expenses incurred on or after the date the LEA received notification from the CDE of their award.

Eligibility

AB 181 defines LEAs eligible for SFBP funds as school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. Additionally, only these LEAs that are also program sponsors of the NSLP or SBP are eligible for this funding.

In order to be eligible for funding, an LEA must be in good standing and have a(n):

  • Current County District Code, Charter Number, Vendor or Service Number;

  • Approved Child Nutrition Program Permanent Single Agreement with the California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division;

  • Valid Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) identification number on file; and

  • Fully-approved School Nutrition Program (SNP) Sponsor Application in CNIPS for School Year 2022–23

More information on good standing status is found on the CDE’s Good Standing Status for SNPs web page.

Participation is voluntary and funding is noncompetitive.

An LEA that receives SFBP funds must use the funds for the costs incurred by the LEA on implementation of any of the school food best practices defined in AB 181 as part of serving reimbursable meals through the NSLP or SBP on or after the date the CDE notifies the LEA of their award. The LEA must also maintain documentation to substantiate use of funds and that it will fulfill the required reporting. These certifications and attestations are a condition of the award.

Guidelines

Timeline
SFBP Registration Form
Expenditures Overview
Procurement
Record Keeping
Reporting

Timeline

Date Actions to Complete
April 3, 2023 Opt-in registration released
May 15, 2023, by 5 p.m. Opt-in registration deadline
June 30, 2025 Submit mandatory funding summary report
June 30, 2025 Funds encumbrance deadline
Returned within 30 days of receiving a billing notice Deadline to return unused funds

SFBP Registration Form

The opt-in registration for SFBP funding is closed. Eligible LEAs submitted a complete SFBP Registration Form by the posted deadline in order to receive an award. Awards will be calculated as directed by AB 181 for all eligible sites served by the LEA. Awarded LEAs should consider the needs of all sites served when determining how funds will be spent as well as how these funds can support implementation of California’s Universal Meals Program.

Following submission of the opt-in registration form, applicants received a confirmation email from the California Department of Education (CDE). If you did not receive a confirmation email within 48 hours of submission and failed to notify the CDE within the specified opt-in time frame you are no longer eligible to receive these funds.

Expenditures Overview

The SFBP funds are intended to supplement federal and state meal reimbursement. LEAs may not use these funds for costs incurred prior to date that the CDE posts the SFBP awards. Once award amounts are posted, LEAs may spend the SFBP funding on any of the following school food best practices, that they are currently implementing, or will increase or expand, as stated in the legislation as part of serving reimbursable meals through the NSLP or SBP:

  • Procuring California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods to support equity in the procurement practices of local agencies;

  • Using California-grown, whole or minimally processed foods in plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils;

  • Procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils in the procurement practices of LEAs, or

  • Freshly preparing meals on site.

As required by the legislation, the CDE and California Department of Food and Agriculture have developed eligibility criteria for expenditures under each of these categories. Refer to the Definitions and Expenses Criteria tab under the Allowable Expenses and Unallowable Expenses subheadings for more information.

Procurement

SFBP funds are intended to support local economies, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and fair labor practices. When practicable, purchases made with SFBP funds should factor these elements into consideration.

Local is defined as within the state of California for the purpose of procuring California grown or produced, whole or minimally processed, sustainable food or plant-based or restricted diet meals from California producers. However, the total distance that the product travels, within the state, between the grower or producer where the product originates and the point of sale to the end consumer may vary according to the local procurement goals and practices determined by the LEA.

These funds are state General Fund monies. At a minimum, your LEA must follow all applicable procurement processes and guidelines which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting procurements in a manner that is compliant with your agency’s procurement procedures and that promotes full and open competition;

  • Complying with your agency’s written standard (or code) of conduct that covers conflicts of interest, including organizational conflicts of interest, and that governs the performance of employees engaged in the selection, award, and administration of contracts and purchases;

  • Maintaining records sufficient to detail the history of the procurement. These records will include, but are not limited to the following: rationale for the method of procurement, selection of contract type, contractor selection or rejection, and the basis for the contract price; and

  • Maintaining all vendor invoices, and receipts.

LEAs who received more than $1,000,000 in annual federal meal reimbursement must follow the procurement requirements under Senate Bill (SB) 490—The Buy American Food Act: public institutions, purchase of nondomestic agricultural food products for all procurement contracts executed after January 1, 2024.

Effective immediately, all LEAs must follow the procurement requirements under AB 778—Institutional purchasers: purchase of California-grown agricultural food products. For more information visit the CDE SB 490 and AB 778 web page.

Record Keeping

As a condition of receiving SFBP funds, LEAs are required to maintain sufficient documentation to substantiate that purchases and expenditures align with SFBP allowable uses of funds.

Documentation and reporting required by the federal School Nutrition Programs (SNP) may also provide sufficient documentation for the SFBP funds.

Examples of documentation based on a meal service model that can be used to demonstrate compliance with SFBP funding requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-preparation: menus, menu production records (meal preparation, menu and serving sizes, and nutrient analysis), policy and procedures for meal service (breakfast and lunch), meal counts, food invoices, time and effort documentation (e.g., Personnel Activity Report (PAR) or equivalent documentation).

  • Vended meals: menus, menu production records (meal preparation, menu and serving sizes, and nutrient analysis), health permits, ordering and service information, vending contract, invoices, procurement practices, or equivalent documentation

  • Food Purchases: attestation or certification from the producer, farmer, or vendor that food or practices demonstrate the SFBP definitions and criteria for California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods

  • Equipment purchases: invoices, or proof of CDE approval, if applicable

LEAs must maintain all SNP records for a period of three years after the end of the fiscal year to which they pertain, unless audit or investigative findings have not been resolved, in which case the records shall be retained until all issues raised by the audit or investigation have been resolved. (Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations [7 CFR] 210.23[c] External link opens in new window or tab. for NSLP and 7 CFR 220.7[e][13] for SBP External link opens in new window or tab.)

LEAs are also responsible for retaining appropriate documentation demonstrating compliance with Senate Bill 490 and Assembly Bill 778.

Reporting

As a condition of accepting these funds, LEAs must commit to completing a mandatory funding summary report. This report will gather details on how the funds were used to increase California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, or whole or minimally processed foods in school meals, which could include plant-based and restricted diets, as well as ongoing plans for sustaining these procurement practices. LEAs will also be required to certify the amount of SFBP expenditures and encumbrances as of June 30, 2025.

The CDE anticipates that this report will be submitted in the form of an online survey. This survey will be available by May 2025, and will be due by June 30, 2025. Failure to complete the mandatory reporting requirements may result in a billing notice to recover the apportioned SFBP funds.

Funding

Funding Announcements
Funding Mechanism and Timelines
Funding Formulas
Tracking Funds
Accounting
Expenditure Deadline

Funding Announcements

The California Department of Education (CDE) posted the funding notice and Apportionment Letter on July 30, 2023. The CDE sent a Notice of Apportionment to the State Controller, State Treasurer, State Department of Finance, and County Superintendents of Schools to distribute the appropriate funds to the awarded LEAs.

The list of recipients and funding allocations is available on the CDE Funding Results web page. After selecting the link, type “School Food Best Practices” in key words, then search. This will bring up the SFBP Funding Results. You can also access the SFBP Funding Results links from the CDE Rates, Eligibility Scales, and Funding web page, under the Grants section.

LEAs awarded may begin incurring allowable costs on the date the funding notice was posted, July 30, 2023, continuing through the expenditure deadline, June 30, 2025.

Funding Mechanism and Timelines

The CDE released 100 percent of each eligible LEA’s total award to their respective County Treasurer’s Office to distribute the funds.

SFBP Funds must be expended or encumbered by June 30, 2025.

Please note that LEAs will be required to certify in the final report the amount of expended and encumbered SFBP funds as of June 30, 2025. Funds cannot be used for expenditures incurred after June 30, 2025.   

LEAs are not required to use the total funding received; however, unused funds must be returned to the CDE within 30 days of receiving a billing notice.

Funding Formulas

This funding must only be used on allowable expenditures for the implementation of school food best practices as part of serving reimbursable meals through the NSLP or SBP as described in the SFBP Apportionment Guidelines and Allowable Expenses tabs.

Total Amount of Funds Available to Distribute: $100,000,000

Award amounts were calculated according to three categories:

  • Base Funding ($50,000): Each eligible LEA received a noncompetitive, base funding level of $50,000.

  • Meal-Service-Based Award: After the base funding was awarded, fifty percent of the remaining funds were allocated proportionately to LEAs based on the total number of eligible reimbursable meals served in October 2021 by the LEA. NSLP, SBP, and Seamless Summer Option meals are included in this calculation.

  • Eligibility-Based Award: Remaining funds were allocated proportionately based on the LEA’s total enrollment of pupils eligible for free or reduced-priced meals at all eligible sites within the LEA’s sponsorship.

Note: The funding approaches provided in this section are formulaic; actual award amounts are available on the CDE Funding Results web page.

This is a noncompetitive, voluntary funding opportunity. Eligible LEAs may choose to decline these funds altogether by not completing the registration form.

Tracking Funds

With the number of funding streams currently available to purchase local, whole, or minimally processed foods as well as to support the preparation of freshly prepared onsite meals, LEAs must ensure complete and accurate documentation of expenditures to avoid using two funding streams to pay for a single expense.

LEAs may begin to use the funds for allowable costs incurred on or after the date the funding notice is posted and continuing through the encumbrance deadline. However, the CDE recommends that LEAs refrain from obligating or expending funds until the funds have been received and deposited into the LEA’s account. In anticipation of receiving these funds, LEAs are encouraged to develop an internal plan and process to prepare for these expenditures.

LEA are encouraged to deposit the SFBP funds into the agency’s cafeteria fund account or Fund 13. The SFBP Funds should be accounted for and tracked separately using the new standardized account code structure (SACS) resource code provided in the Accounting Section below for the SFBP funds. SFBP funds must be used to procure food options and to support operations to prepare and serve freshly prepared onsite reimbursable meals for the NSLP and SBP, and, as such, are subject to the rules governing the cafeteria fund.

Once funds are deposited into the cafeteria fund, they take on the restrictions associated with this fund. Keep in mind that cafeteria fund expenditures not in compliance with federal regulations may be subject to disallowance.

For more information on restrictions and regulations governing the use of cafeteria funds, please see the CDE Cafeteria Fund Guidance web page.

Equipment purchases made with SFBP funds would only require CDE pre-approval if:

If pre-approval is necessary please follow the normal procedures to request approval for equipment expenditures, by contacting the Resource Management Unit at SNPCafeFundQuestions@cde.ca.gov.

Accounting

The CDE has created a new standardized account code structure (SACS) resource code to help you record the SFBP Funds. Use the resource code below when depositing SFBP funds into your agency’s general fund (Fund 01) or cafeteria fund (Fund 13). Use the revenue object code below to track the origination of the SFBP funds:

  • SACS Resource Code: 7033
  • Revenue Object Code: 8520

The SACS resource code is now available in the SACS tables of valid code combinations. If you have questions about the accounting for these funds using the new resource code, please contact the School Fiscal Services Division at SACSINFO@cde.ca.gov.

Also note that indirect costs are not an allowable expense for the SFBP funds.

Expenditure Deadline

Funds must be encumbered by June 30, 2025. Unused funds must be returned to CDE within 30 days of receiving a billing notice.

Definitions and Expenses Criteria

Allowable Expenses:

Limited Allowability:

Unallowable Expenses

As required, the California Department of Education (CDE), in partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), developed the definitions and expenditure criteria for California-grown, whole or minimally processed, sustainably grown food, and plant-based or restricted diet food options from California producers that can be purchased with SFBP funds.

Allowable Expenses

LEAs may spend the SFBP funding on implementation of any of the following school food best practices as part of serving reimbursable meals through the NSLP or SBP:

  • Procuring California grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods to support equity in the procurement practices of local agencies;
  • Using California grown, whole, or minimally processed foods in plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils;
  • Procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils in the procurement practices of LEAs, or
  • Freshly preparing meals on site.

These funds are intended to support local economies, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and fair labor practices. When practicable, purchases made with SFBP funds should factor these elements into consideration.

All whole or minimally processed foods, ingredients, and products purchased with SFBP funds must be sustainably grown or produced, or sourced in California, with the exception of ingredients in processed food products purchased for plant based or restrict diet meals.

As previously mentioned, with the numerous funding streams currently available to purchase local, whole, or minimally processed foods as well as to support the preparation of freshly prepared onsite meals, LEAs must ensure complete and accurate documentation of expenditures to ensure expenses are funded and tracked appropriately.

California-grown Food

“California-grown,” “California grown,” and similar terms with identical connotations include food or agricultural products that have been produced in the state or harvested in its surface or coastal waters.

“California-grown” food or agricultural products purchased with SFBP funds must also have been fully, 100 percent, processed in the state of California. Note that, for processed foods, only minimal processing is allowable under this funding.

Purchases from local and regional, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers are encouraged.

Whole or Minimally Processed Foods

“Whole” foods are defined as a naturally occurring, unprocessed foods.

Foods that are “minimally processed” have undergone only those processes that include:

  • Traditional processes used to make food edible or to preserve it or to make it safe for human consumption, for example, smoking, roasting, freezing, drying, and fermenting, or

  • Physical processes that do not fundamentally alter the raw product or that only separate a whole, intact food into component parts, for example, grinding meat, separating eggs into albumen and yolk, and pressing fruits to produce juices.

“Whole” or “minimally processed” foods may come in a wide variety of states (e.g., whole, cut, sliced, diced, pureed, etc.) or forms (e.g., fresh, frozen, canned, dried, etc.) and still be considered minimally processed. Examples of minimally processed foods from each of the reimbursable meal components are:

  • Fruits and vegetables (including 100 percent juice)

  • Pastas, rice, oatmeal

  • Meats (whole, pieces, or ground meat)

  • Meat alternates such as tofu, beans, and legumes

  • Cheese and yogurt

“Whole” or “minimally processed” foods purchased with SFBP funding excludes fluid dairy milk.

“Whole” or “minimally processed” foods must also have been fully 100 percent processed in the state of California.

Sustainably Grown Foods

“Sustainably grown” foods are those that are grown or raised using Climate Smart Agriculture Practices, Climate Smart Agriculture Production Systems, or Other Regenerative Strategies.

“Sustainably grown” foods purchased with SFBP funding must also be purchased from California food producers that can attest or demonstrate and verify that they use one or more of the sustainably grown practices above to provide foods and agricultural products.

Purchases with animal welfare or fair-trade designations or certificates are also encouraged.

Supporting Equity

Per the legislation, procurement of California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods through SFBP funds is intended to support equity. To achieve this, LEAs may:

  • Make purchases from farmers and producers that identify with historically disadvantaged groups or small business

  • Establish equity in menu options by providing more culturally relevant options

  • Expand incorporation of locally grown, sustainable, and whole or minimally processed food options in schools with high Free and Reduced Price Meal enrollment across the district.

Plant-based Food Options

“Plant-based food option” means a food that contains no animal products or byproducts, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, or eggs, and that is recognized by the USDA as a meat alternate for purposes of the NSLP.

“Plant-based food options” purchased with SFBP funds may be purchased as either the meat or meat alternate alone, or may be purchased as a complete plant-based meal. When SFBP funds are used to purchase complete meals, the remaining meal components must be California grown and must combine together to form a reimbursable meal under the relevant USDA School Nutrition Program (SNP) guidance.

SFBP funds may be used for procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils from a California vendor including another SNP operator. LEAs choosing to procure plant-based meals by vending meals need to ensure that the vendor can provide the required documentation for reporting.

While “plant-based food options” are not required to be minimally processed or have 100% California grown ingredients, LEAs must purchase products that are processed in the of state of California or from a food manufacturer headquartered in the state of California. Purchasing whole or minimally processed food for plant-based food options is encouraged whenever possible. LEAs must maintain sufficient documentation to support these purchases.

Restricted Diet Food Options

“Restricted diet food option” means a food prepared in response to a pupil with at least one dietary restriction, including, but not limited to, religious dietary restrictions or restrictions prescribed by a physician.

Medically restricted diet food options shall be provided to a pupil as a part of a reimbursable meal that meets the USDA NSLP or SBP meal pattern requirements. Exceptions for meal pattern requirements due to a disability must be authorized by a State of California licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner, in writing and be on file at the school. See Management Bulletin 02-2017 for more information.

SFBP funds may be used to purchase food items to accommodate restricted diets based on religious or personal dietary restrictions. In these instances, the meals provided to make reasonable accommodations using the items purchased must meet the criteria for reimbursement under the USDA’s SNP guidance.

SFBP funds may also be used for procuring restricted diet meals for pupils from a vendor including another SNP operator. LEAs choosing to procure restricted diet meals by vending need to ensure that the vendor can provide the required documentation for reporting.

While restricted diet food options purchased with SFBP funds are not required to be minimally processed or have 100 percent California grown ingredients, LEAs must purchase products that are processed in the of state of California or from a food manufacturer headquartered in the state of California. Purchasing whole or minimally processed food for restricted diet food options is encouraged whenever possible. LEAs must maintain sufficient documentation to support these purchases.

Freshly Preparing Meals Onsite

Allowable expenditures for “freshly preparing meals onsite” include staffing and labor costs, equipment, and food costs consistent with federal requirements. SFBP funding may be used to cover the cost of a Food Service Management Contract (FSMC) preparing freshly prepared meals onsite for the LEA.

“Freshly prepared onsite meal” means food service in which the preparation of meals takes place on a daily basis at the site of consumption or in a district’s central kitchen, using whole ingredients in their most basic, minimally processed form, or cooking with both fresh, raw, whole ingredients and ready-made products.

LEAs may only use SFBP funds for ingredients to comprise the freshly prepared meal onsite if they meet the SFBP definitions and criteria for allowable food options.

LEAs may only use SFBP funds for equipment necessary for the preparation of meals. Equipment and supplies for meal service such as salad bars, food containers, or plastic ware are not included.

Staffing

Staffing related to implementing any of the school food best practices listed in the legislation is an allowable use of funds. Staffing is only allowable as a direct charge. SFBP funds for staffing may only be used for time and effort costs beginning on the date the funding notice is posted continuing through the expenditure deadline. LEAs must maintain time and effort documentation (e.g. Personnel Activity Reports [PARs] or equivalent documentation which include duty statements, timecards, etc.) when using SFBP funds for staffing. Additionally, staff costs can be prorated across multiple funding sources; however, costs invoiced cannot be in excess of 100 percent of the total costs.

Contracting Services

Contracted services for freshly preparing meals onsite and procurement practices for food options listed in the legislation is an allowable use of funds. Contracted services are only allowable SFBP expenditures as direct charges. Contractors should submit an itemized invoice of allowable activities and actual time spent. For funds deposited into the cafeteria account or Fund 13, LEAs must follow the federal procurement process outlined in Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 200. SFBP funds held outside the cafeteria account of Fund 13 must follow applicable federal, state, and local procurement requirements.

Equipment

SFBP funds may be used to purchase equipment in order to support local procurement or to implement freshly prepared onsite meals. SFBP purchases may not include equipment or supplies related to meal service. With the number of funding streams currently available to purchase equipment, LEAs must ensure complete and accurate documentation and avoid double dipping – using two funding streams to pay for a single expense. With proper documentation, equipment purchases can be funded across multiple funding streams up to 100 percent of their value.

LEAs must follow established capital expenditure requirements when purchasing equipment with SFBP to support the implementation of freshly prepared onsite meals. If the funds are deposited into the cafeteria fund or Fund 13, LEAs must receive pre-approval from their analyst prior to encumbering an equipment cost, if applicable. Pre-approval is required for any equipment with a unit cost of at least $5,000 and not listed on the Capital Expenditure Approved List. Also, it should be noted that infrastructure costs are not an allowable expense.

Limited Allowability

The following two categories of purchases are only allowable when procuring plant-based or restricted diet food items or meals for pupils.

Processed Food Items

SFBP funds a number of school food approaches. When using these funds to freshly prepare meals on site, or to procure California-grown, whole or minimally processed foods, or when using California-grown, whole or minimally processed foods in plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils, the purchase of processed food items is not allowable.

Foods that are generally understood to be significantly processed or prepared may not be purchased using SFBP funds. For example:

  • Baked goods such as breads, muffins, tortillas, or crackers
  • Pre-packaged sandwiches or meals
  • Prepared and/or pre-cooked or sous vide items such as chicken nuggets, chicken strips, hot dogs, or hamburger patties, that come ready-to-eat or that require no further preparation beyond heating
  • Nondomestic food products

To further illustrate, crushed tomatoes, shredded cheese, whole-wheat flour, and sliced vegetables are all food items that are individually allowable, but a pre-made pizza comprised of those ingredients would not be allowable. A second example is a pre-cooked egg patty where the egg originated from a chicken in another state but was delivered to and processed into an egg patty at a California based vendor. It is a minimally processed food product, however because the product originated outside of California, it would not be allowable.

The CDE supports quality student nutrition and the use of minimally processed ingredients in all meals, including plant-based and restricted diet meals. LEAs using SFBP funds to procure plant-based and restricted diet meals and food options are encouraged to purchase minimally processed foods to ensure that students with dietary preferences or restrictions have the same great access to delicious, quality school meals.

Vended Meals

Vended meals do not meet the definition of a freshly prepared onsite meal and therefore SFBP funds cannot be used to support vended meal service, with the exception of procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils as noted previously.

Unallowable Expenses

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs consist of agency-wide business and administrative costs such as accounting, budgeting, personnel, purchasing, and centralized data processing and are not an allowable expense for the SFBP funds.

Infrastructure Costs

Infrastructure costs are not an allowable expense for the SFBP funds.

Staffing and Contracted Services

Staffing and contracted services for marketing, training, consulting, or promotion are an unallowable use of SFBP funds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Eligibility
Funding
Procurement
Allowable Uses of Funds
Limited Allowability
Unallowable Uses of Funds
Reporting

Eligibility

  1. Which LEAs are eligible for SFBP Funds?

    Eligible LEAs include public school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools that are sponsors of NSLP or SBP and in good standing.
  1. Our school participates in NSLP or SBP under another LEA, are we eligible for SFBP Funds?

    Sponsors administering the School Nutrition Programs (SNP) on behalf of other LEAs will receive funding for all sites under their SNP Sponsor application. The California Department of Education (CDE) will allocate the award to sponsors administering the SNPs on behalf of other LEAs. Once awarded, the sponsor determines how the funds will be allocated across sites under their sponsorship. LEAs that participate in NSLP or SBP, but are not sponsors, are not eligible for this funding.

Funding

  1. When can awarded LEAs begin using the SFBP Funds?

    LEAS can begin using the SFBP funds on July 30, 2023, the date the funding notice was posted. The CDE strongly encourages LEAs to wait on using the SFBP funds until the funds are received and deposited into the LEA's account.
  1. How was the SFBP funding calculated?

    All eligible LEAs received a SFBP base award amount of $50,000. Fifty percent of remaining SFBP funds were disbursed proportionately among those LEAs that completed the online opt-in registration form by the deadline and based on the number of total meals served in October 2021. Then, all remaining funds were allocated proportionately based on the LEAs’ total enrollment of pupils eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

    The SFBP funding amounts are available on the CDE's SFBP Funding Results web page.
  1. How are rebates factored into the SFBP Funds?

    Any rebate, discount, or credit for purchase must be subtracted from the total cost. For example, if a piece of equipment originally costs $6,000 and later the vendor offered a $100 rebate for purchase of the equipment, with a resulting actual cost of $5,900, the LEA may only use $5,900 of the SFBP funds for this purchase. LEAs should work with vendors when obtaining the initial quotes to determine whether there are any rebates, discounts, or credits prior to purchasing the equipment. As a reminder, LEAs must get prior approval from CDE for any equipment purchases made with SFBP funds, if applicable.

Procurement

  1. Can LEAs use SFBP funds for the design and construction necessary for installing new pieces of equipment purchased with SFBP funds?

    No. The SFBP funds may be used for equipment purchases to support implementation of freshly preparing meals onsite, but may not be used for infrastructure or design costs. However, the Kitchen Infrastructure and Training (KIT) Funds may be used for the cost of equipment, design, and construction related to your school nutrition program operation. To learn more about the KIT Funds visit the KIT Funds web page.
  1. Can LEAs buy supplies such as plastic or paper items for serving freshly prepared meals?

    No. The SFBP funds may not be used for supplies or equipment for serving meals such as plastic or paper items (e.g. cutlery, napkins, cups, or paper trays to serve individual servings, salad bars, or drink dispensers). However, equipment purchases used for preparing fresh meals on site are allowable, such as the meal preparation and storage equipment items listed on the CDE Capital Expenditure Approved List web page.
  1. Can LEAs purchase plant based or restricted diet food options that contain California grown or produced ingredients, if the manufacturer or processor is not based in California?

    No. Plant based or restricted diet food options procured with the SFBP funds must be processed in California or from a food manufacturer headquartered in California.
  1. What is the definition of “local” for this program?

    Local is defined for the purpose of SFBP as within the state of California. However, the total distance that the product travels between the grower or producer where the product originates and the point of sale to the end consumer may vary in distance according to the local procurement goals and practices determined by the LEA.

Allowable Uses of Funds

  1. Can SFBP funds cover operational cost for freshly preparing meals onsite?

    Yes. Some examples of allowable costs to prepare fresh meals onsite may include staffing and labor costs, equipment and supplies, and food costs that meet the SFBP criteria.

    With the numerous funding streams currently available to purchase local, whole, or minimally processed foods as well as to support the preparation of freshly prepared onsite meals, LEAs must ensure complete and accurate documentation of expenditures to ensure expenses are funded and tracked appropriately.
  1. Do LEAs have to use the funds for all four best practices listed in the legislation?

    No. LEAs are not required to implement all of the practices. LEAs may choose to use the SFBP funding for one or more of the purposes listed in the legislation:
    • procuring California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods to support equity,

    • using California-grown, whole or minimally processed foods in plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils,

    • procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals for pupils, or

    • freshly preparing meals onsite.
  1. Can LEAs use the SFBP funds to purchase California grown or produced, sustainably grown whole or minimally processed foods that contain fair labor and animal welfare designations?

    Yes. In addition to supporting sustainable agricultural practices and promoting equity in procurement, SFBP funds may also be used to purchase ingredients for school meals that contain fair labor and animal welfare designations from third party verified inspections.

    Examples of animal welfare certifications include, but are not limited to: Certified Humane, American Grassfed, and Animal Welfare Approved. Examples of fair labor designations include but are not limited to: Fair Trade Certified, Fair Labor Certified, Fair Trade, and Fair for life.
  1. Can an LEA use the SFBP funds to cover incidental costs such as those related to shipping and handling or packaging?

    Yes. Incidental costs (such as those related to the shipping and handling or packaging) that are part of the normal and customary price charged by a vendor for allowable SFBP purchases are also an allowable and reasonable expense.

Limited Allowability

  1. If an LEA continues to work with its vended meal supplier to serve students does it still qualify for the SFBP funds?

    Yes. SFBP funds may be spent on procuring plant-based or restricted diet meals from meal vendors. However, SFBP funds may not be spent on non-plant based or non-restricted meals from meal vendors.
  1. If an LEA continues to work with its food service management company (FSMC) to our students does it still qualify for the SFBP funds?

    Yes, provided that your FSMC is procuring California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, whole or minimally processed foods, plant based or freshly preparing meals onsite and it provides the require documentation for reporting.
  1. Are whole grain products such as whole grain bread or pasta considered "minimally processed foods"?

    Whole grain breads are not considered minimally processed food items and would be an unallowable use of the SFBP funds, but whole grain rice and pasta are considered minimally processed and would be allowable costs. The criteria for purchases are based on funding guidance and may vary across funds; this response is specific to SFBP funds.

Unallowable Uses of Funds

  1. Is it allowable to use SFBP funds to procure whole or minimally processed food that is California-grown but processed outside of California?

    No. California grown whole or minimally processed food or agricultural products purchased with SFBP funds must also have been fully, 100 percent, processed in the state of California. Note that, for processed foods, only minimal processing is allowable under this funding, with the exception of plant-based food options or restricted diet meals. Purchases from local and regional, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers are encouraged.
  1. Can an LEA purchase pre-made food items from a small business that produces handcrafted products using many local ingredients?

    No. Although the LEA is procuring a meal item with many California grown ingredients, this would not be allowable because the product is considered processed and precooked, unless they are procuring the item for the purpose of providing a plant based or restricted diet meal for pupils.
  1. Are precooked or frozen meat items allowable SFBP purchases?

    No. Pre-cooked or frozen meat items such as chicken nuggets, burger patties, or hot dogs, that come ready-to-eat or that require no further preparation beyond heating are generally understood to be significantly processed or prepared and may not be purchased using SFBP Funds.

Reporting

  1. What information will we submit to the CDE in the mandatory funding summary report?

    Participating LEAs will be asked to report to the CDE how they used the funding to increase California-grown or produced, sustainably grown, or whole or minimally processed foods, and  plant-based and restricted diets in school meals. LEAs will also be required to certify the amount of SFBP expenditures and encumbrances as of June 30, 2025.

Resources

California-Grown Food

Resource Description
USDA Integrating Local Foods into Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) Fact Sheet web page External link opens in new window or tab. This USDA fact sheet provides the steps of starting a farm to school program.
USDA Local Meat in Schools: Increasing Opportunities for Small and Mid-sized Livestock Ranchers and Fishermen Fact Sheet web page External link opens in new window or tab. This USDA fact sheet gives examples, tips, and information for putting local meat on school menus.
USDA Local Procurement Decision Tree: How Will You Bring Local Foods into the Cafeteria with Your Next Food Purchase? Fact Sheet web page External link opens in new window or tab. This USDA fact sheet features the various paths a school can take to bring local foods into the cafeteria with your next food purchase.
USDA Selling Local Food to Schools: A Resource for Producers Fact Sheet web page External link opens in new window or tab. This USDA fact sheet is a resource for producers that are looking for opportunities to sell to schools in their communities.
CDE Procurement in the CNPs web page This web page provides Federal and state information for the procurement of food service related goods and services across CNPs.
CDE Senate Bill 490 and Assembly Bill 778 web page This web page provides information on two new CA bills affecting LEAs purchasing of nondomestic agricultural food products and California-grown agricultural food products.

Sustainably Grown Foods

Resource Description
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service List of Conservation Practice Standards External link opens in new window or tab. This list provides links to national conservation practices standards and documents that contain technical information about the conservation of soil, water, air, animals (domestic and wild), and energy resources.
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Healthy Soils Program (HSP) List of Agricultural Management Practices External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) This list provides eligible agricultural management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG), and improve soil health, for funding through the CDFA HSP Incentives Program.
CDFA Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) List of Manure Management Practices External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) This list provides manure management practices, i.e., combinations of manure collection or separation and storage/treatment methods currently incentivized through the AMMP to reduce GHGs.
CDFA Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP) List of Manure Management Practices External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) This list provides manure management practices supported by DDRDP that reduce GHG and provide additional benefits, such as renewable energy and compost production, through anaerobic digester systems on California dairy operations.
CDFA State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program List of Agricultural Management Practices External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) This list provides eligible agricultural management practices that support water conservation, improved water efficiency, improved energy efficiency or reduction of GHG emissions from agricultural water distribution systems on farms.
CalRecycle Organic Materials Management web page External link opens in new window or tab. This web page provides information and resources for reducing organic waste including landscaping, technology, food waste prevention, compost and mulch, and regulatory coordination.
StopWaste web page External link opens in new window or tab. This web page provides education and resources to reduce waste for residents, businesses, and schools in the community.

Plant-Based or Restricted Diet Food Options

Resource Description
CDE Plant-based meal options in CNPs web page This web page provides definitions, policy guidance, and resources for program operators participating in the CNPs and interested in offering plant-based meals.

CDE Modifications to Accommodate Disabilities Management Bulletin (MB) SNP-02-2017 web page

This MB provides guidance on accommodating children with disabilities for program operators participating in the CNPs.
CDE Final Rule: Fluid Milk Substitutes MB USDA-CNP-04-2010 web page This MB provides guidance to clarify various issues concerning the substitution of fluid milk in cases where a student’s special dietary need does not rise to the level of a disability.
CDE Variations in Meals for Religious Reasons MB CNP-04-2014 web page This MB clarifies allowable variations to CNP food components in order to meet religious needs among Jewish schools, institutions, and sponsors.

Freshly Prepared Onsite Meals

Resource Description
CDE Allowable Use of Cafeteria Funds MB SNP-05-2020 web page This MB provides guidance on allowable and unallowable expenditures from the nonprofit school food service account (cafeteria fund).
CDE Approved Capital Expenditures web page This web page provides the USDA Capital Expenditure Approved List for school food authority equipment purchases.
CDE Equivalent Documentation for Multifunded Employees MB SNP-04-2018 This MB provides guidance about federal and state requirements pertaining to equivalent documentation of employee time and effort for multifunded employees.
CDE Kitchen Infrastructure and Training (KIT) Funds web page This web page describes the appropriation of the KIT funds to LEAs to purchase equipment and upgrades to kitchen infrastructures and offer food service staff training.
CDE California Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes web page This web page provides a collection of school district culinary center recipes reflecting a variety of strategies for scratch cooking, including using locally grown California produce and multicultural flavors that students love.
USDA Food Buying Guide (FBG) for CNPs Interactive Web-Based Tool web page External link opens in new window or tab. This web page provides interactive web based tools to determine recipe yields and required quantities of foods to purchase to meet the meal pattern requirements. The USDA FBG for CNPs with interactive tools is also available as a mobile application. Download it today on your iOS or Android device from the Team Nutrition FGB Mobile App web page External link opens in new window or tab..
Chef Ann Foundation web page External link opens in new window or tab. This web page provides resources and professional development to support SNP operators using scratch cooking to prepare healthy meal options.
Institute for Child Nutrition iLearn web page External link opens in new window or tab.
Free online trainings and resources for SNP directors, managers, and staff designed to prepare participants to meet the challenges of day-to-day operations.

Contacts

SFBP Fund Questions

Submit questions regarding this funding to SFBP@cde.ca.gov.

Cafeteria Fund Expenditure Questions

To request approval for cafeteria fund expenditures, contact the Resource Management Unit at SNPCafeFundQuestions@cde.ca.gov.

SNP Analysts

For general questions regarding the School Nutrition Programs (SNP), contact your SNP Analyst on the California Department of Education SNP Specialist Directory web page.

 

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 12, 2024
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