Skip to main content


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

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Geographic Preference for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in the Child Nutrition Programs

The purpose of this memorandum is to update the definition of what is considered “unprocessed” for the purposes of applying the optional geographic preference for procurement in the Child Nutrition Programs.

Section 4302 of Public Law 110-246, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008,  amended section 9(j) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to allow institutions receiving funds through the Child Nutrition Programs to apply an optional geographic preference in the procurement of unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products. This provision 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 made for these programs by the Department of Defense Fresh Program. The law also applies to State Agencies making purchases on behalf of local agencies under any of the aforementioned Child Nutrition Programs.

This statutory provision was implemented by policy memorandum SP 30-2008, Applying Geographic Preferences in Procurements for the Child Nutrition Programs (July 9, 2008), as well as SP 08-2009 Procurement Questions (January 9, 2009) and SP 28-2009Procurement Questions (July 22, 2009)These initial USDA guidance documents specified that the geographic procurement preference option 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, or have not been chopped, cut, diced or sliced.

After observing the impact of USDA's interpretation of the term “unprocessed” during the past year, USDA determined that their initial guidance was unnecessarily restrictive and had the potential to prevent participating Child Nutrition Program operators from receiving locally grown or raised products in a usable form.  Accordingly, USDA recently updated their initial guidance to add that unprocessed agricultural products that have been chopped, cut, sliced, diced or shucked do meet the meaning of the term “unprocessed” as intended by the statute. 

At this time, USDA is further amending the previous guidelines regarding what is to be considered to be “unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products” when applying the geographic procurement preference option. In their view, for purposes of applying a geographic procurement preference in the Child Nutrition Programs, “unprocessed agricultural products” means only those agricultural products that retain their inherent character.  The effects of the following handling and preservation techniques shall not be considered as changing an agricultural product into a product of a different inherent character: cooling, refrigerating, freezing; size adjustment through size reduction made by peeling, slicing, dicing, cutting, chopping, shucking, and grinding; drying/dehydration; washing; the application of high water pressure or “cold pasteurization”; packaging (such as placing eggs in cartons) and vacuum packing and bagging (such as placing vegetables in bags); butchering livestock, fish and poultry; and the pasteurization of milk.

USDA is drafting a proposed rule to address the geographic preference provision.  The definition set forth in this memorandum will remain in effect until a final rule becomes effective.   

Please do not hesitate to contact your representative at (518) 473-8781 or if you have questions about this memorandum.

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:, 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:

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: 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 electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.