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Purchase of Locally Produced Foods

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Beneficial Information

To: Child Nutrition Program Operators

Attention: Food Service Directors, Business Officials, Superintendents, Administrators, Purchasing Agents, and Finance Directors

Number: CNP-06-2018

Date: June 2018

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy Memoranda: SP 07, SFSP 07-2016:  Local Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meal Programs; SP 01-2016, CACFP 01-2016, SFSP 01-2016; Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs for Child Nutrition Programs

Supersedes: Management Bulletin USDA-CNP-02-121, Purchase of Locally Produced Foods, September 2002

Subject: Purchase of Locally Produced Foods

Over 20 years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began a comprehensive effort to connect small farms to school meal programs. This effort, known as the Farm to School (F2S) initiative, encourages small farms to sell fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and encourages schools to increase the percentage of produce purchased from small farms. In a 2015 USDA F2S census, 5,498 California schools indicated they participated in F2S activities. As a result, 3.46 million students are developing healthy eating habits and learning where their food comes from.

This management bulletin is part of the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division’s (NSD) ongoing efforts to encourage all agencies participating in Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) to participate in F2S activities while providing information to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.

In support of the F2S initiative, the CDE NSD encourages CNP sponsors to purchase locally-produced foods to the maximum extent feasible. Program operators that use food service management companies or other formal contracts with food companies are encouraged to purchase locally. Using locally sourced food products also supports the local economy and provides healthy choices for children in the school meal programs. Local offerings can span the school meal tray and include everything from the salad bar and fresh fruit and vegetable servings to wheat in the pizza crust, beans in the chili, rice in the stir-fry, turkey in the sandwiches, and cheese in the quesadillas.

Local buying includes all types of producers, such as farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, as well as many types of food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, distributors, and other value-added operations that enable CNPs to showcase the full range of food products available in their respective regions.

All procurement methods may be used to procure from local farmers. When procuring local foods using the micropurchase method (threshold is less than or equal to $50,000 with self-certification) or small purchase method, program operators must adhere to the federal regulations in Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR), Section 200.320(a)(b). Regarding small purchase threshold; effective January 1, 2018, California Public Contract Code Section 20111 was amended to permit public school districts and county offices of education to follow the threshold of $250,000, unless their local small purchase threshold is more restrictive. When using the small purchase procedures, sponsors must obtain an adequate number of price quotes and award the contract to the most responsive and responsible bidder with the lowest price.

Program operators that are required to comply with the Buy American Provision per Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 210.21(d) and 220.16(d), can ensure compliance with the Buy American Provision requirement when they purchase directly from local farms.

As a reminder, purchases of locally grown fruits and vegetables must be competitively procured consistent with federal, state, and local procurement laws, regulations, and policies. Program operators are expected to enforce competition with details found in 2 CFR, Section 200.319.

  • Read USDA Policy Memoranda SP 01-2016, CACFP 01-2016, SFSP 01-2016: Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs for CNPs for more information on rules and regulations when procuring local meats, a general overview of the federal regulations, and how state and local governments tailor the rules to address specific issues. This policy memo can be found on the USDA web page Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs for CNPs at

  • Refer to the USDA Community Food Systems Resources web page at [Note: The preceding link is no longer valid. Please visit] to obtain resources including a planning guide on how to implement an F2S program. The web page also offers information on establishing a vision, purchasing local foods, menu planning, and other maintenance efforts to sustain the program.

  • Visit the California Farmer Marketplace web site at to find farms near you. This web site offers farmers the opportunity to post products and connect directly with school food service personnel to increase the amount of California-grown and produced foods on school lunch trays.

  • Familiarize yourself with the CDE Procurement in CNPs web page at for more information on procurement through the Procurement Guidance Video series.

  • Visit the USDA F2S Procuring Local Foods web page at for more information on procuring from local farmers. This web page offers a local procurement guide, webinars, and a fact sheet.
Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the appropriate NSD staff member for your agency as indicated below.

  • Procurement Resources Unit (PRU)
    You can contact the PRU by email at [Note: The preceding email address is no longer valid and has been replaced by:] to be directed to your PRU Specialist.

  • School Nutrition Programs Unit (SNP)
    You can find contact information for the SNP Specialists in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS). You may also contact the SNP Office Technician (OT), by phone at 916-324-1450 or by email at

  • Summer Meals Unit (SMU)
    You can find contact information in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS for a list of SMU Program Specialists. You may also contact the SMU OT by phone at 916-322-8323 or by e-mail at

  • Education, Nutrition, and Policy Unit (ENPU)
    You can contact a Nutrition Education Consultant by phone at 916-322-3813 or by e-mail at for information on CDE’s F2S program.
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, January 25, 2024
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