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Senate Bill 490 and Assembly Bill 778

Changes to the Buy American Food Act signed by Governor Newsom.

On September 27, 2022, Senate Bill 490—The Buy American Food Act: public institutions: purchase of nondomestic agricultural food products and Assembly Bill 778—Institutional purchasers: purchase of California-grown agricultural food products, were signed by Governor Newsom.

Senate Bill 490

This new law is effective January 1, 2024 through January 1, 2029, and applies to local educational agencies (LEAs) who operate the School Nutrition Programs and receive more than $1,000,000 in annual federal meal reimbursement (which includes the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and After School Snack Program).

If an LEA receives over $1,000,000 in annual federal meal reimbursement, they must specify in their solicitation for bids and contracts that they will only purchase agricultural food products grown, packed, or processed domestically unless any of the following applies:

  1. The bid or price of the nondomestic agricultural food product is more than 25 percent lower than the bid or price of the domestic agricultural food product.

  2. The quality of the domestic agricultural food product is inferior to the quality of the agricultural food product grown, packed, or produced nondomestically.

  3. The agricultural food product is not produced or manufactured domestically in sufficient and reasonably available quantities of a satisfactory quality to meet the needs of the public institution.

An “Agricultural food product” means a fresh or processed product, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, dairy, shell eggs, honey, grains, livestock meats, poultry meats, and fish, including shellfish.

Note: If an LEA has an existing food contract in place with a contractor on January 1, 2024, this bill will apply upon the next successive contract.

Assembly Bill 778

This new law amends California Food and Agriculture Code (FAC), Section 58595(a) by removing that school districts must accept the bid or price of a California grown agriculture product if the price does not exceed more than 5 percent of the lowest bid or an agriculture product produced outside of the state. In addition, this law adds LEAs to FAC Section 58595(c), which requires LEAs to accept a bid or price for that agricultural food product when it is grown in California before accepting a bid or price for a domestic agricultural food product that is grown outside the state, when both of the following are met:

  1. The bid or price of the California-grown agricultural food product does not exceed the lowest bid or price for a domestic agricultural food product produced outside the state.

  2. The quality of the California-grown agricultural food product is comparable to that domestic agricultural food product produced outside the state.

LEAs are responsible for updating applicable procedures and training the necessary staff on changes in program operations as a result of Senate Bill 490 and Assembly Bill 778. LEAs are also responsible for retaining appropriate documentation demonstrating compliance with Senate Bill 490 and Assembly Bill 778.

If you have any questions or concerns, you may email the Nutrition Services Division at NSDBuyAmericanProvision@cde.ca.gov.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, July 10, 2023
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