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The Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot

Information regarding the Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables available to participants of the Food Distribution Program (FDP).

The California Department of Education (CDE) FDP is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to participate in the Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables. The goal of the pilot is to provide additional opportunities for FDP recipient agencies (RA) to use entitlement funds on fresh fruits and vegetables from USDA-approved pilot vendors.

Application Process

RAs must be approved by the FDP prior to procuring produce through the pilot. Approvals are based on established criteria, including geographic region, size of school district, participation method, and current farm to school activities. The FDP solicits RAs for applications during the months of November and December and is announced by standard Nutrition Services Division Listserv. RAs may apply by submitting requested information to the FDP pilot e-mail address at

Note: Interested RAs should view the USDA-approved vendors list to ensure approved pilot vendors are in distribution proximity.

Procurement Requirements

State and federal procurement regulations and procedures must be followed when establishing contracts with each vendor. For details related to procurement regulations, please visit the CDE Procurement in School Nutrition Programs web page.

For additional information regarding pilot produce procurement and contract language, please see the Pilot Procurement Requirements web page.

Receipting Process and Recipient Agency Responsibilities

At the time of delivery, the RA is responsible for inspecting the produce and signing the delivery invoice, noting counts received and any issues with the quality of produce. The vendor will submit the signed delivery document and completed pilot invoice spreadsheet to the RA for final approval within one business day of delivery. The RA is responsible for approving the received vendor’s invoice spreadsheet within one business day. Once the vendor receives the final approval from the RA, the vendor sends all approved documentation to the USDA and within 10 business days, the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service will pay the invoice and notify the vendor, RA, and the CDE FDP for record keeping purposes. Please note that any invoice disputes must be resolved by the RA and vendor directly. While the RA is responsible for resolving contract disputes with the vendor, the RA should inform the CDE FDP of any issues.

Entitlement Allotment and Tracking Responsibilities

By January of each year, RAs must submit their allocated entitlement amount for the following school year to the FDP. The FDP will send requests for this information to all participating agencies during the preceding months. RAs are responsible for tracking their entitlement usage for the pilot and ensuring that they do not overspend the total allocated amount. If an RA spends more than their allocated amount, the FDP may require the RA to cancel orders received through the pilot, causing the RA to pay for the produce with alternate funding sources, such as an RA’s cafeteria fund. Remaining USDA Foods entitlement not initially allocated for the pilot cannot be used to cover over expenditures without prior approval from the FDP.  

Administrative Fee

The CDE assesses an administrative fee per case or case equivalent delivered to the RA. This charge supports CDE costs associated with the administration of this pilot. RAs are invoiced at the end of each school year after the USDA has reconciled all deliveries, historically in mid-August. For fee information, please view Management Bulletin (MB) FDP-03-2017: New Program Fees for Agencies Receiving U.S. Department of Agriculture Food on the CDE FDP MB web page.

Vendor Lists

RAs may only procure pilot produce from USDA-approved pilot vendors listed in the Pilot Program Eligible Vendor List below. The USDA also provides the following Pilot Program Pending Eligible Vendor List, which lists vendors that are currently in the approval process. The FDP recommends that RAs encourage their local produce vendor(s) to apply for the pilot for the purposes of continued growth and supporting locally procured products.

Vendor Information

For vendors interested in becoming approved for the Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables Pilot, please see our CDE FDP Vendor Information web page.

USDA Evaluation of the Pilot

A USDA led evaluation was conducted by a study team using purchase data from the pilot’s first three school years (2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16) and data collected through interviews with participating state agencies. To view the full report and other helpful information, visit the USDA Evaluation of Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables web page External link opens in new window or tab..

CDE Pilot Contacts

Email general pilot questions to:

For entitlement and invoice questions, please contact:
Sherry Tam, USDA Foods Consultant
Phone: 916-324-9875
Fax: 916-327-4004

USDA Pilot Resources

USDA Pilot web page External link opens in new window or tab.

USDA Pilot Email:

Questions:   Food Distribution Program | 916-323-0865
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, June 4, 2019
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