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California FFVP Guidelines

The California Department of Education provides the California Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Guidelines based on the National School Lunch Act (Section 19) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Handbook (December 2010).

The California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division (NSD), has developed further guidelines (with input from the U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] Western Regional Office) to supplement the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) Handbook for Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). These guidelines were created to help school food authorities (SFA) and participating schools implement the FFVP in an effective manner. The guidelines address nine main topic areas:

  1. Snack Frequency and Serving Times
  2. Allowable Fruits and Vegetables
  3. Nutrition Education
  4. FFVP Reimbursement Claim Process
  5. FFVP Claim Due Dates
  6. One-time Exception
  7. Personnel Activity Reporting
  8. FFVP Administrative Review Process
  9. Good Standing Status
  10. Grant Appeal Procedures
  11. Final Report
  12. Contact Information

All California schools that receive an FFVP grant are expected to follow the California guidelines in the USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) and the published Proposed Rules for the FFVP.


The USDA published Proposed Rules for the FFVP (Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations [7 CFR], parts 211 and 235) in February 2012. The USDA has not yet published final regulations; therefore, changes to the FFVP operating requirements may occur once the final regulations are enacted.

Contact Us

For questions regarding the content of this Web page, please contact Jennifer Kuo, Nutrition Education Consultant, or the FFVP team by phone at 800-952-5609 or by e-mail at


Snack Frequency and Serving Times

The purpose of the FFVP is to offer a free fresh fruit or vegetable snack to all students in the participating school.

  • Frequency: Grantees are expected to serve the FFVP snack a minimum of three times per week in a participating school during the school year.

  • Serving Times: Each grantee is only allowed to serve the FFVP snack during the school day between the regular hours of school operation (e.g., during mid-morning break, before recess, afternoon nutrition breaks, etc.). Grantees may not operate the FFVP before or after school programs, or during lunch or breakfast periods.

  • Farmers Market: Farmers market set up is allowed once a year as the FFVP snack service and must be eaten during the school day, outside of other meal times. All fruits and vegetables served during this event must follow the HACCP such as washing them prior to consumption.

Allowable Fruits and Vegetables

The following lists include the kind of fruits and vegetables that can and cannot be purchased with FFVP grant funds and served to students. Most of the items listed are provided in the USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). However, those items that are bolded have been added for clarification for California grantees.

  • Allowable Items

    • Whole or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables

    • Condiments: lemons, limes, or chili powder can be used as a condiment to be served with vegetables

    • Vegetable dips are allowed if they are low-fat, yogurt-based, or other low-fat or fat-free (nonfat) dips

      • All dip serving sizes cannot exceed 1 to 2 tablespoons (2 ounces)

      • Please note that low-fat or non-fat hummus, peanut butter, and sun butter may be served with vegetables once a month due to the high fat content

    • Fresh vegetables that are cooked must be limited to once a week and served only as part of a nutrition education lesson

  • Unallowable Items

    • Processed or preserved fruits and vegetables (i.e., canned, frozen, vacuum-packed, or dried)

    • Fruit leather or jellied fruit

    • Dips for fruit or cottage cheese

    • Fruit or vegetable juice

    • Smoothies

    • Trail mixes or nuts

    • Fruit/vegetable pizza

    • Fruit that has been injected with flavorings

    • Carbonated fruit

    • Most nonfood items, except those allowed under supplies and administrative operational costs

If you have any questions about which fruits and vegetables are allowed to be served in the FFVP, please contact CDE staff for assistance before making any purchases.

Nutrition Education

Nutrition education is expected to be delivered to all students, a minimum of one time per week.

  • The nutrition education provided can vary in length and content.

    • For example, nutrition education can be as easy as teaching students where the featured fruit or vegetable is grown, and its nutrition/health benefits, etc. In addition, nutrition education may be part of a core curriculum, such as health or science classes.

    • The goal is for nutrition education to be incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

    • Please note that FFVP funds cannot be used to purchase nutrition education materials or promotional items.

FFVP Reimbursement Claim Process

The California FFVP reimbursement claim is available in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS). The SFAs must submit monthly claims electronically in the CNIPS to receive reimbursement. The CDE will not accept paper claim forms. Please refer to the FFVP User Manual for Claiming in CNIPS for specific information on the entire reimbursement claim process and how to enter a claim for payment. The user manual can be downloaded from the CNIPS or the Resources tab on the CDE FFVP Web Page.

Allowable reimbursement expenses for the FFVP grant fall into three categories: fresh fruits and vegetables, operating costs, and administrative costs. The allowable costs under these categories may be different from those in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: California guidelines require the SFA to spend a minimum of 70 percent of the total award on the direct purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. Participating schools must document fruit and vegetable expenses that are directly related to the FFVP.

  • Operating costs: Participating schools must maintain documentation related to operating expenses for acquiring, delivering, preparing, and serving fruits and vegetables through the FFVP. These operating cost expenses may include:

    • Small supplies (napkins, paper plates, serving bowls, trash bags, etc.)

    • Produce delivery charges

    • Direct labor charges (salaries and fringe benefits for employees who prepare, serve, or deliver fresh fruits and vegetables)

  • Administrative costs: The USDA has established a maximum that SFAs can spend on administrative costs—up to 10 percent of the grant award. Participating schools must document administrative costs including equipment purchases, leasing, and labor costs that are not directly related to the preparing and serving of fresh fruits and vegetables, but are necessary to administer the program. Participating schools must prorate expenses as needed to ensure that only the FFVP portion of the administrative expense is charged to the FFVP.

  • Any planned equipment purchases with a cost per unit amount of $300 or more requires prior approval from the NSD before purchasing the equipment. An SFA must complete an Equipment Justification Form and submit it to the NSD. This form can be downloaded from CNIPS in the Download Forms section. If the equipment is being shared with another program, equipment purchases must be prorated as appropriate.

  • Unallowable costs: FFVP funds cannot be used to purchase nutrition education materials, nor can they be used to purchase promotional items or fund activities

  • Disallowed costs: Unless grantees contact the CDE in advance of an issue, items within a claim will be disallowed, and subsequently not paid, for reasons including, but not limited to:

    • Significant concerns about purchases

    • Incomplete claims

    • Claim errors

    • Claim total to date exceeds total allocation amount

    • Total year-to-date claim amount does not meet minimum fruit and vegetable purchase requirement of 70 percent

    • Total year-to-date administrative expense claim amount exceeds 10 percent of the school’s total grant award limit

Grantees must maintain financial records (copies of invoices or purchase orders) for at least three years beyond the grant period for auditing purposes.

  • Claim requirements: Monthly FFVP claims are due within 30 days from the end of the previous month (e.g., the November 2015 FFVP reimbursement claim is due by December 30, 2015).

  • Similar to the NSLP, FFVP claims will not be paid if they are submitted 60 days or more after the end of the month for which you are claiming reimbursement (USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), December 2010, Page 25; and 7 CFR, Section 210.8[1]).

An SFA can request a one-time exception, once every 36 months, to receive payment for a claim submitted after the 60-day deadline.

FFVP Claim Due Dates

The FFVP claim submission due dates are based on the School Nutrition Program (SNP) deadlines to submit claims in CNIPS for reimbursement. All FFVP claims should be submitted 30 days after the end of the claim month or 30 days prior to the SNP claim submission deadline. The SNP claim due dates are posted annually and are available on the CDE SNP Claim Submission Deadlines Web page.

Claim Due Dates for Each Grant Period
Claim Month Claim due date to NSD (30 days from end of month that is being claimed) 60-day deadline—after which claim cannot be paid
July August 30 September 29
August September 30 October 30
September October 30 November 29
October November 30 December 30
November December 30 January 29
December January 30 March 1
January March 2 April 1
February March 30 April 29
March April 30 May 30
April May 30 June 29
May June 30 July 30
June July 30 August 29

One-time Exception

The USDA allows the CDE to grant a one-time exception to an agency once every 36 months for each program type, including the FFVP. The one-time exception is used when an agency submits a claim or modifies a claim after the 60-day submission deadline.

Per Management Bulletin (MB) NSD-CNP-08-2014, the CDE limits the use of the one-time exception to the federal fiscal year in which the claim was late and requires the exception request be submitted to the CDE by December 15 following the applicable federal fiscal year (October 1–September 30). For example, ABC agency does not submit its January claim for reimbursement by April 1 (claim submission deadline). The agency has not submitted a one-time exception request in the past 36 months. If ABC Agency decides to use its one-time exception, it must submit the request to the NSD by December 15. If you need to request a one-time exception, please contact the FFVP team by e-mail at, for the necessary one-time exception Corrective Action Form.

Personnel Activity Reporting

Please note that any personnel expenses charged to the FFVP grant require payroll documentation and personnel activity reporting (PAR). State guidance, the California School Accounting Manual (CSAM) (2016 Edition), and federal regulations, Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR) Part 200.430, govern payroll documentation. Whether the employee working on the FFVP also works on other federally funded programs will determine the type of time distribution records needed.

  • Employees who work on a single object code (such as the FFVP only) must maintain a Semiannual Certification that is:

    • Certifying the employee works solely on that program/cost object

    • Prepared at least semiannually

    • Signed by the employee or supervisor

CSAM Procedure 905 “Documenting Salaries and Wages,” provides an example of a semiannual certification.

  • Employees who work on multiple cost objectives (such as the FFVP and the NSLP), if not using a substitute system, must maintain PARs that:

    • Reflect an after-the-fact distribution of the actual activity of each employee

    • Account for the total activity each employee is compensated

    • Are prepared at least monthly and coincide with one or more pay periods

    • Are signed by the employee

For information about the cafeteria fund, please visit the CDE Cafeteria Fund Web page or contact the CDE Cafeteria Fund Team by e-mail at

FFVP Administrative Review Process

As a condition of receiving FFVP funds from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the CDE is federally required to perform reviews (USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), December 2010, page 26).

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, as amended by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, requires state agencies to adhere to an accountability system that conducts administrative reviews (AR) to evaluate program requirements of the NSLP and School Breakfast Program (SBP), as well as other federal child nutrition programs (CNP), on a three-year cycle.

The FFVP is included in the AR starting with School Year 2013–14 (considered in the other federal program reviews section). Therefore, SFAs that are scheduled for an AR will also have a review of the FFVP at one or more participating sites.

The AR for the FFVP will include: (1) claim validation, and (2) an on-site review. The NSD field service staff conducts the on-site review and are responsible for comprehensive AR monitoring. The NSD field services staff oversees the California FFVP and conducts the off-site claim validation.

The components of the FFVP review are described below:

  • Claim Validation (off-site)

    • The NSD reviewer will validate one claim for reimbursement for each FFVP school selected for review.

    • The SFA will provide supporting cost documentation for the one month claim. The NSD reviewers will compare the total cost claimed for reimbursement against the total cost established by the supporting cost documentation. The NSD reviewer will determine if the school:

      • Uses the majority of funds to purchase fresh produce

      • Reviews and prorates equipment purchases

      • Ensures that labor costs and all other nonfood costs are minimal

      • Plans to charge no more than 10 percent of the total grant to administrative costs

    • The SFA will be in compliance if claimed items are allowable and claim costs can be validated with supporting cost documentation.

  • On-site Review
    • The NSD field reviewer will observe the FFVP operation in each of the selected schools. The reviewer will observe whether the:

      • FFVP is available to all enrolled children

      • FFVP is free of charge

      • School offers the FFVP within the school day, but outside the meal service times of the NSLP and SBP

      • School widely publicizes the FFVP

      • School does not serve products that are unallowable according to the USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools

      • School provides dip for vegetables only and is either low-fat or fat-free (nonfat) and the serving is no larger than 2 tablespoons

      • School does not provide fresh fruits and vegetables to adults except for teachers who are in the classroom with students during the FFVP food service

      • The school offers a cooked vegetable no more than one per week and only when included as part of a nutrition education lesson

      • FFVP food service follows hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles and applicable sanitation and health standards

    • The SFA will be in compliance with the review element if the NSD’s observation on the day of review, at each of the FFVP schools selected for review, corresponds to the statements above.

Good Standing Status

To be eligible and receive an FFVP grant, SFAs currently participating in any of the federal CNPs, must be in good standing in the operation of those programs. They must also be in compliance with all related regulations during the application process and anytime during the course of the grant period.

This means that an SFA cannot be documented as having an open serious deficiency in its operation of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and cannot have an active reimbursement hold in the School Nutrition Programs (SNP) related to nonsubmission of or unacceptable corrective action documentation (7 CFR, sections 226.6[c][3][iii], 225.11[c], and 210.24 respectively).

If an SFA knowingly submits false information on its grant application or invoices, the CDE may deny or collect the agency’s grant funding.

The following criteria are considered when determining good standing. Any of the factors below may affect your agency’s eligibility to receive grant funding:

  • Open serious deficiencies in the CACFP or SFSP (7 CFR, sections 226.6[c][3][iii] and 225.11[c])

  • SNP reimbursement holds (7 CFR, Section 210.24)

  • Failure to attend mandatory training (CACFP, SFSP, and SNP) (7 CFR, sections 226.16[l][2][viii], 225.7[a], and 210.24)

  • Failure to report or submit required documents (CACFP, Food Distribution Program [FDP], SFSP, and SNP) (7 CFR, sections 226.16[b][2], 240.14[c], and 250.12[c], 225.6[c], 210.15[a])

  • Outstanding account receivables (that are not currently being offset) and have aged beyond 30 calendar days (CACFP, FDP, SFSP, and SNP) (7 CFR, sections 226.14, 225.12, and 210.19[c], State Administrative Manual–Nonemployee Accounts Receivable–Section 8776.6, and MB NSD-FDP-01-2011)

  • Fiscal accountability findings identified during the agency’s last review or audit (CACFP, SFSP, and SNP) (7 CFR, sections 226.6[b][2][vii][A][1], [2], and [3], 225.14[c][1], 210.19[a][1])

  • Administrative capability findings identified during the agency’s last review or audit (CACFP and SFSP) (7 CFR, sections 226.6[b][2][vii][B] and 225.14[c][1])

  • Excess net cash resources (CACFP, SFSP, and SNP) (MB NSD-CACFP-07-2011; FNS 796-2, Rev. 4, page 7, Section [IV][D]; and 7 CFR, sections 226.15[e][13], 210.9[b][2], 210.14[b], and 210.19[a][1])

1Afterschool meal supplements, At-risk afterschool meals, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Food Distribution Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Special Milk Program, National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Seamless Summer Feeding Option, Summer Food Service Program

State Monitoring

A grantee will be notified if there is concern about their good standing status during the course of the grant year. As a result, the CDE reserves the right to remove grantees from the FFVP and disallow them from receiving future FFVP grants if the CDE has documented concerns with the grantee’s good standing status or their ability to implement the FFVP (i.e., grantee is not implementing the FFVP in accordance with the USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) or the California FFVP Guidelines).

Over the course of the FFVP grant period, grantees are expected to spend 75–100 percent of their total award. Therefore, the CDE will monitor a grantee’s spending pattern throughout the grant, and if there are documented concerns that grantees are under spending, this may detract from a grantee’s good standing status, and may result in an SFA being disallowed from receiving a future FFVP grant.

In addition, the CDE expects all grantees to implement the FFVP when their school begins. If the School Food Authority has any participating FFVP schools that have not implemented the FFVP by October 16 of the grant year, the CDE will amend the second allocation award of the school to zero dollars and remove the school from the FFVP.

Grant Appeal Procedures

Applicants that wish to appeal a grant award decision must submit a letter of appeal to the NSD. Appeals are limited to the grounds that the NSD failed to correctly apply the criteria for reviewing the application as specified in the request for applications.

Once applicants are notified that the grant awards are posted, your agency will have 10 calendar days to contact the NSD to request information regarding the reason for your grant denial. The NSD will have 10 calendar days to provide a written response (through e-mail, fax, or certified mail).

If after receiving the NSD’s written response your agency wishes to file an appeal, your agency must send a completed appeal request form. This form is included as part of the FFVP grant application. Submit the form to:

Kim Frinzell, Director
Nutrition Services Division
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 4503
Sacramento, CA 95814

The completed appeal request must be postmarked no later than 15 calendar days after receipt of the NSD’s initial written response detailing the reason for denying grant funding. Once submitted, the NSD shall acknowledge the receipt of the appeal request within 10 calendar days. All appeals will be based on written record alone.

Written documentation for all appeals must be submitted within 30 calendar days from the receipt date of the NSD’s initial written response detailing the reason for denying grant funding. All documentation must be sent to the address identified above.

The NSD Director or designee will review the appeal documentation from the applicant and the NSD. The applicant will be notified in writing of the NSD’s determination within 60 calendar days from the date the CDE received the appeal request.

The NSD’s initial determination denying grant funding shall remain in effect during the appeal process.

Final Report

The CDE requires all FFVP grantees to complete a final report at the close of the grant period. This report is essential for the CDE to understand how the program is being operated statewide. Upon review of the final reports, the CDE will consider how to further improve the program and share the information with California FFVP grantees and the USDA. The Final Report may include questions about FFVP implementation strategies, nutrition education provided, program barriers, and partnerships or collaborations that assisted with the implementation of the FFVP.

  • The CDE will provide grantees a final report template in April of each grant period.

  • Grantees must return the final report to the CDE no later than 30 days after the end of the grant period (July 30).

Contact Information

The CDE has multiple FFVP contacts to assist grantees. The following list includes e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and a description of the types of inquiries handled by each point of contact.

Main FFVP e-mail address
Questions about general program issues

FFVP claim-related e-mail address
Questions about submitting monthly claims
Questions about submitting Equipment Justification forms

CNIPS Help Desk
800-952-5609, Option 6
Questions about CNIPS login or technical difficulties

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, January 14, 2019
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