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THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

To: 
School Food Service Directors/Managers
From: 
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Date: 
Monday, July 21, 2008
Subject: 
Applying Geographic Preferences in Procurements for the Child Nutrition Programs

This memorandum provides information on a provision of the recently enacted Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246) that applies to procurements in the Child Nutrition Programs.  Section 4302 of P.L. 110-246 amended section 9(j) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to require the Secretary of Agriculture to encourage institutions operating the Child Nutrition Programs to purchase unprocessed locally grown and locally raised agricultural products. 

As amended, effective October 1, 2008, the NSLA allows institutions receiving funds through the Child Nutrition Programs to apply a geographic preference when procuring unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products.  This applies to operators of all of the Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program, as well as to purchases of fresh produce for these programs by the Department of Defense.

The law also applies to State Agencies which are making purchases for any of the aforementioned Child Nutrition Programs. While the statute permits institutions to apply a geographic preference to the maximum extent practicable and appropriate, it does not require institutions to purchase locally grown and locally raised agricultural products, or to apply a geographic preference in their procurements of these products. Moreover, States cannot mandate through law or policy that institutions apply a geographic preference when conducting these procurements, because the NSLA grants this authority directly to the institutions.

The institution responsible for the procurement has the discretion to determine whether and how a geographic preference meets its needs. Additionally, the procuring institution may define the area for any geographic preference (e.g. State, county, region, etc.). Geographic preference may only be applied to the procurement of unprocessed agricultural products which are locally grown and locally raised, and that have not been cooked, seasoned, frozen, canned, or combined with any other products. As specified in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, the Managers of the legislation used the term "unprocessed" to "preclude the use of geographic preference for agricultural products that have significant value added components. The Managers do not intend to preclude de minimis handling and preparation such as might be necessary to present an agricultural product to a school food authority in a useable form, such as washing vegetables, bagging greens, butchering livestock and poultry, pasteurizing milk, and putting eggs in a carton." (Joint Explanatory Statement, p. 107). Additionally, using a minimal amount of preservatives on locally grown produce may be needed for the purpose of preventing spoilage and would be acceptable. It is also important to note that all milk served in the Child Nutrition Programs must be pasteurized and meet State and local standards. Pasteurized milk is the only dairy product for which geographic preference may be applied.

While a geographic preference may be used to encourage the purchase of locally grown and locally raised products by enabling an institution to grant an advantage to local growers, this provision does not eliminate the requirement for procurements to be conducted in a manner that allows for free and open competition, consistent with the purchasing institution's responsibility to be responsible stewards of federal funds.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at 518-473-8781 if you have questions on these issues.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

For Nondiscrimination Statement translations, click here.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en:http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Spanish_Form_508_Compliant_6_8_12_0.pdf. y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electrónicoprogram.intake@usda.gov.

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.

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