Given the many national, state and local rules that apply to school food purchasing, the regulatory environment related to farm-to-school programs is confusing at best. We’ve tried to cut through the fog by gathering this important information and making it more accessible.
May is Michigan Asparagus Month!
We encourage schools and other institutions to add Michigan asparagus to menus in May 2012. Please click to see Governor Snyder's proclamation, recipes for Asparagus Guacamole, Pasta Salad and Soup, and a Michigan asparagus poster to download, print, and display in school cafeterias. School food service directors can source Michigan asparagus through broadline and specialty distributors, use Michigan MarketMaker and Local Harvest to search for asparagus growers in your area, or review a list of additional Michigan asparagus distributors, handlers and farm markets which may be able to help source asparagus and check on prices.
New Nutrition Standards for School Meals
Part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, new nutrition standards for school meals released in 2012 mark "the first major changes in school meals in 15 years," according to the USDA. These standards call for increasing the offerings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limiting amounts of sodium, saturated fat and trans far, among other changes. The new changes will be phased into school meals programs over three years beginning with the 2012/2013 school year. Read the final rule language here and the USDA press release here. Check out a resource compiled by Alyssa Moles at The Food Trust to compare current, proposed and final regulations for school meals nutrition standards here.
The new USDA rule implemented in April 2011 as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will allow schools and other providers to give preference to unprocessed locally grown and raised products that are purchased for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, Child and Adult Care, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable, and Summer Food Service Programs. Read the USDA press release here and the National Farm to School Network rule summary here. Check out the Q & A memo from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and the guide from the National Farm to School Network to help you apply geographic preference to your school food purchases.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization Updates
About every five years, Congress has the opportunity to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act which regulates school meals programs, like the National School Lunch Program, that feeds more than 31 million children every school day. The recent Child Nutrition Reauthorization, known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, passed both House and Senate on December 2, 2010 and awaits President Obama's signature. Click here for an article released from the House Committee on Education and Labor that lays out various aspects of the bill, including $40 million in mandatory funding for Farm to School. Another release from the Committee that can be found here summarizes the bill and indicates that President Obama is expected to sign the bill in the very near future. First Lady Michelle Obama also expressed a statement in regard to the new bill - check it out here. Click here to read the full text of the passed legislation.
October Established as National Farm to School Month
On November 16th, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) to establish October as National Farm to School Month. Learn more and read the resolution language in our press release.
Michigan Farm to School Bill Package Signed by Governor Granholm
In August 2008, a Farm to School bill package was introduced in the Michigan legislature. The package of bills passed the Michigan legislature, and were signed into action by Governor Granholm in December 2008. This package includes measures to increase the state’s small purchase threshold for school food purchases, and establish a farm to school program supported by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. The approved bills in this package were Public Act 343 (Rep. Gonzalez-Flint), Public Act 344 (Rep. Hansen-Hart), and Public Act 315 (Rep. Mayes-Bay City).
The Farm to School Regulatory Environment
|Michigan Farm to School Bill Package|
Federal Rules and Regulations
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Child Nutrition Reauthorization)
Public Law 111-296 (12-13-10)
Title II –Reducing Childhood Obesity and Improving the Diets of Children
Subtitle D –Miscellaneous
Sec. 243. Access to Local Foods: Farm to School Program
(3)(a)-(3)(c) – “The Secretary shall award competitive grants under this subsection to be used for— training; supporting operations; planning; purchasing equipment; developing school gardens; developing partnerships; and implementing farm to school programs…In making awards under this subsection, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, ensure— geographical diversity; and equitable treatment of urban, rural, and tribal communities…The total amount provided to a grant recipient under this subsection shall not exceed $100,000.”
Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs
Federal Register Vol. 77, No. 17 (1-26-2012) Part III
7 CFR Parts 210 and 220
“This final rule updates the meal pattern and nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to align them with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This rule requires most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements. These improvements to the school meals programs, largely based on recommendations, made by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, are expected to enhance the diet and health of school children, and help mitigate the childhood obesity trend.”
I. Executive Summary
“…the six-cent per lunch performance-based reimbursement increase included in the HHFKA [Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act] will provide additional revenue beginning October 1, 2012. The Congressional Budget Office estimated about $1.5 billion over 5 years will be provided in performance-based funding.”
Meal requirements for lunches and requirements for afterschool snacks.
(a) General requirements. (1) General nutrition requirements. Schools must offer nutritious, well-balanced, and age-appropriate meals to all the children they serve to improve their diets and safeguard their health.
(i) Requirements for lunch...Schools must follow a food-based menu planning approach and produce enough food to offer each child the quantities specified in the meal pattern…for each age/grade group served in the school.
(c)(2) Food components.
(i) Meats/meat alternates component.
Schools must offer meats/meat alternates daily as part of the lunch meal pattern…
(E) Beans and Peas (legumes). Cooked dry beans and peas (legumes) may be used to meet all or part of the meats/meat alternates component. Beans and peas (legumes)…include foods such as black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, kidney beans, mature lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and split peas.
(ii) Fruits component.
Schools must offer fruits daily as part of the lunch menu. Fruits that are fresh; frozen without added sugar; canned in light syrup, water, or fruit juice; or dried may be offered to meet the requirements…
(iii) Vegetables component.
Schools must offer vegetables daily as part of the lunch menu. Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and dry beans and peas may be offered to meet this requirement….Cooked dry beans and peas (legumes) may be counted as either a vegetable or as a meat alternate but not as both in the same meal. Vegetable offerings at lunch over the course of the week must include the following vegetable subgroups…:
(A) Dark green vegetables. This subgroup includes vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, dark green leafy lettuce, mesclun, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, and watercress;
(B) Red-orange vegetables. This subgroup includes vegetables such as acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, tomato juice and sweet potatoes;
(C) Beans and peas (legumes). This subgroup includes vegetables such as black beans, black-eyed peas (mature, dry), garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, soy beans, split peas, and white beans;
(D) Starchy vegetables. This subgroup includes vegetables such as black-eyed peas (not dry) corn, cassava, green bananas, green peas, green lima beans, plantains, taro, water chestnuts, and white potatoes; and
(E) Other vegetables. This subgroup includes all other fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables, cooked or raw, such as artichokes, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, beets, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, green peppers, iceburg lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, turnips, wax beans and zucchini.”
The National School Lunch Act
Geographic Preference Option for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in Child Nutrition Programs
Federal Register Vol. 76, No. 78 (4-22-11)
7 CFR Parts 210, 215, 220, 225, and 226
“Background. 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 (42 U.S.C. 1758(j)) to require the Secretary of Agriculture to encourage institutions operating Child Nutrition Programs to purchase unprocessed locally grown and locally raised agricultural products.”
Part 210—National School Lunch Program
Subpart E—State Agency and School Food Authority Responsibilities
Section 210.21 Procurement
“(g) Geographic preference.
(1) A school food authority participating in the Program, as well as State agencies making purchases on behalf of such school food authorities, may apply a geographic preference when procuring unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products. When utilizing the geographic preference to procure such products, the school food authority making the purchase or the State agency making purchases on behalf of such school food authorities have the discretion to determine the local area to which the geographic preference option will be applied.
(2) For the purpose of applying the optional geographic procurement preference… ‘unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products’ means only those agricultural products that retain their inherent character. The effects of the following food handling and preservation techniques shall not be considered as changing an agricultural product into a product of a different kind or character: cooling; refrigerating; freezing; size adjustment made by peeling, slicing, dicing, cutting, chopping, shucking, and grinding; forming ground products into patties without any additives or fillers; drying/ dehydration; washing; packaging (such as placing eggs in cartons), vacuum packing and bagging (such as placing vegetables in bags or combining two or more types of vegetables or fruits in a single package); the addition of ascorbic acid or other preservatives to prevent oxidation of produce; butchering livestock and poultry; cleaning fish; and the pasteurization of milk.”
7 CFR Chapter II (1-1-07)
Part 210 – National School Lunch Program
Subpart E – State Agency and School Food Authority Responsibilities
Section 210.21 Procurement.
“(a) General. State agencies and school food authorities shall comply with the requirements of 7 CFR part 3016 [Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments] or 7 CFR part 3019 [Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations], as applicable concerning the procurement of supplies, food, equipment and other services with Program funds. These requirements ensure that such materials and services are obtained for the Program efficiently and economically and in compliance with applicable laws and executive orders.”
Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments
7 CFR Chapter XXX
Section 3016.36 Procurement.
7 CFR 3016.36(c)(2)
“Grantees and subgrantees will conduct procurements in a manner that prohibits the use of statutorily or administratively imposed in-State or local geographical preferences in the evaluation of bids or proposals, except in those cases where applicable Federal statues expressly mandate or encourage geographic preference. Nothing in this section preempts State licensing laws...”
Procurement by small purchase procedures (informal bids).
7 CFR 3016.36(d)(1)
“Small purchase procedures are those relatively simple and informal procurement methods for securing services, supplies, or other property that do not cost more than the simplified acquisition threshold fixed at 41 U.S.C. 403(11) [currently set at $100,000]. If small purchase procedures are used, price or rate quotations shall be obtained from an adequate number of qualified sources.”
Procurement by sealed bids (formal advertising)
7 CFR 3016.36(d)(2)
“Bids are publicly solicited and firm-fixed-price contract (lump sum or unit price) is awarded to the responsible bidder whose bid, conforming with all the material terms and conditions of the invitation for bids, is the lowest in price…”
Conditions of sealed bids:
1. “A complete, adequate, and realistic” description
2. Two or more responsible bidders
3. “The procurement lends itself to a firm fixed price contract and the selection of the successful bidder can be made principally on the basis of price.”
1. Public advertising of an invitation for sealed bids with sufficient time prior to opening bids
2. The bid invitation includes specifications, pertinent attachments, defines items or services for procurement so that the bidder can properly respond
3. All bids will be publicly opened at the place and time set out in the bid invitation
4. “A firm fixed-price contract award will be made in writing to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.” Discounts, transportation costs, and life cycle costs may be considered in determining the lowest bid, but discounts will only be taken into account to determine the lowest bid “when prior experience indicates that such discounts are actually taken advantage of;”
5. “Any or all bids may be rejected if there is a sound documented reason.”
Designation of October as “National Farm to School Month”
House Resolution 1655 (9-23-10)
“….Now, therefore, be it resolved that…
(2) the House of Representatives –
(A) expresses support for designation of “National Farm to School Month”;
(B) encourages schools and local education agencies to use local produce in meals; and
(C) encourages schools, farmers and farm groups, local businesses, nonprofit institutions, churches, cities, State governments, and other local groups to raise awareness of Farm to School in their communities.”
Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (The Farm Bill)
Local Food and Farm Support Act
Purchases of Locally Produced Foods
Section 4302. “Section 9(j) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1758(j)) is amended to read as follows:
‘(j) Purchases of Locally Produced Foods – The Secretary shall –
(1) encourage institutions receiving funds under this Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) to purchase unprocessed agricultural products, both locally grown and locally raised, to the maximum extent practicable and appropriate;
(2) advise institution participating in a program described in paragraph (1) of the policy described in that paragraph and paragraph (3) and post information concerning the policy on the website maintained by the Secretary; and
(3) allow institutions receiving funds under this Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.), including the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, to use a geographic preference for the procurement of unprocessed agricultural products, both locally grown and locally raised.’”
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (The Farm Bill)
As noted in the ‘2002 Farm Bill: Section by Section Summary of Provisions Affecting Special Nutrition Programs’ by the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, effective October 10, 2002, Section 4303 of The Farm Bill of 2002 “requires the Secretary [of Agriculture] to encourage institutions participating in the school lunch and breakfast programs to purchase locally produced foods, to the maximum extent practicable; advise institutions of the locally produced food policy; and provide startup grants to up to 200 institutions to defray initial costs of equipment, materials, storage facilities, and similar costs. It authorizes $400,000 a year for each of fiscal years 2003-2007.”
U.S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 13
(j) Purchases of Locally Produced Foods
“(1) In general, The Secretary shall—
(A) encourage institutions participating in the school lunch program under this chapter and the school breakfast program established by section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1773) to purchase, in addition to other food purchases, locally produced foods for school meal programs, to the maximum extent practicable and appropriate;
(B) advise institutions participating in a program described in subparagraph (A) of the policy described in that subparagraph and post information concerning the policy on the website maintained by the Secretary; and
(C) in accordance with requirements established by the Secretary, provide startup grants to not more than 200 institutions to defray the initial costs of equipment, materials, and storage facilities, and similar costs, incurred in carrying out the policy described in subparagraph (A).”
Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 Conference Report (Report 107-424)
Title IV – Nutrition
Subtitle C – Miscellaneous Provisions
(52) Purchase of Locally Produced Foods
“The Senate amendment requires the Secretary to: encourage institutions participating in the School Lunch and Breakfast programs to purchase locally produced foods, to the maximum extent practicable and appropriate and in addition to other food purchases; advise these institutions of the locally produced food policy; and provide start-up grants up to 200 institutions to defray initial costs of equipment, materials, storage facilities, and similar costs incurred in carrying out the locally produced food policy. Also it authorizes appropriations of $400,000 a year for FY2002-FY2006. (Section 458)…
The Conference substitute adopts the Senate provision….
The intent of the Managers is to authorize the Secretary to award modest start-up grants for equipment, materials, and similar costs associated with purchasing locally-produced foods. It is not the intent to create a geographical preference for purchases of locally produced foods or purchases made with grant funds. All purchases are to be made competitively, consistent with federal procurement laws and regulations….
The Managers want to make clear that school food authorities are still required to follow federal procurement rules calling for free and open competition and limit local product purchases to those that are practicable….”
State of Michigan Rules and Regulations
Michigan Farm to School Bill Package
Public Act 315
“An act to provide for the coordination and development of certain farm-to-school procurement processes and procedures; to provide for procedures and recommendations for certain farm product producers to access school-related food programs; to provide for certain powers and duties for the departments of education and agriculture; and to provide for the dissemination of certain information to schools and farm product producers.
Sec. 3. (1) The MDE (Michigan Department of Education) and the MDA (Michigan Department of Agriculture) shall collaborate and cooperate by means of a memorandum of understanding executed between the departments in order to implement the provisions of this act.”
Public Act 343
“(4) A school district or public school academy is not required to obtain competitive bids for purchasing food unless the food is purchased in a single transaction costing $100,000.00 or more.”
Public Act 344
http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/publicact/pdf/2008-PA-0344.pdf “(4) An intermediate school district is not required to obtain competitive bids for purchasing food unless the food is purchased in a single transaction costing $100,000.00 or more.”