Local Food for Schools

Local Food for Texas Schools

TDA entered into a cooperative agreement with the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the purchase of unprocessed or minimally processed Texas food products. The purpose of the Local Food for Schools (LFS) program is to support local and regional food systems, with a focus on historically underserved and small businesses. This grant can help participating Contract Entities (CEs) establish or strengthen connections to Texas farmers, ranchers, distributors, and small businesses and get more Texas food on students’ trays. 

The total grant award is $22.3 million and individual CEs can receive up to $250,000 based on enrollment. This is a one-time funding opportunity. There are no cost-sharing or matching requirements for this program. NSLP and SBP CEs who are not contracted with food service management companies (FSMCs) are eligible to opt-in. The Opt-in period closed on October 31, 2023. Click here to view the list of LFS grant recipients.

LFS funds can be used to pay for the direct purchase, transportation, and storage of unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Purchases can be made directly with producers and small businesses or through distributors.


 

ALLOWABLE UNALLOWABLE
Direct food costs, and the storage and transportation costs of Texas food products - Allowable costs under storage and distribution may include any typical direct costs associated with the storage and distribution of commodity products. Examples include direct salaries for temporary warehouse workers; lease or rental of delivery trucks or other equipment (forklifts, refrigerators, freezers, etc); payments/fees for common carriers for transporting or storing commodities; lease or rental of warehouse space; or supplies used in the storage and handling of commodity products (boxes, pallets, etc.) Direct or indirect costs associated with developing and administering the program
Minimally processed or unprocessed foods produced in Texas--minimally processed states (whole, cut, pureed) and forms (fresh, frozen, dried, canned) Processed foods
Fruits and vegetables, including 100% juices Baked goods - bread
Grains – pasta, rice, flour Pre-packaged sandwiches/meals and tortillas
Meats and/or Meat alternates– whole, pieces, ground meats, beans or legumes
Beef jerky, beef snack sticks, and/or summer sausage products made without flavorings, colorings, or other additives
Chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pre-made pizzas, smoked brisket, seasonings and spices
Fluid milk and dairy products – yogurt, cheese Ready-to-eat processed/prepared foods and drinkable yogurt
Olive oil  Bottled water
Foods that are eligible for NSLP and/or SBP reimbursement and meet USDA meal pattern guidelines Foods for events or staff
*This list will be updated on a regular basis as additional allowable or unallowable foods are identified through technical assistance.

TDA will process payments to CEs on a cost reimbursement basis. CEs will be required to submit invoices to TDA for costs incurred for the purchase, storage, and transportation of food along with supporting documentation related to the Texas food product(s) and the vendor(s) from which purchases were made.

Funds may be used November 3, 2023, through March 31, 2025. CEs are encouraged to submit invoices as soon as possible after making their purchases. All reimbursement requests must be submitted to TDA via the Reimbursement Request form no later than May 9, 2025.



 


Next Steps for Schools

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  1. Review revised LFS Reimbursement Training Slides from November 3, 2023
  2. Review FAQs and LFS resources in the sections below.
  3. Procure and spend funds on LFS qualifying Texas food products!
  4. Complete and submit the Reimbursement Form and supporting documentation for each LFS qualifying purchase invoice. If you have multiple invoices for ONE vendor/producer, please use the LFS Payment Request Form found under resources.
  5. Email questions to LocalFoodGrant@texasagriculture.gov .
Find a Local Farm Fresh Producer in Your Area

Click here to visit the Farm Fresh Network page featuring a map showing the Texas farmers, ranchers, distributors, and food producers that are interested in selling their products to schools, child and adult care centers, and summer meal programs. 

Note: The Farm Fresh Network is a tool for schools to use to locate producers/farmers who are interested in selling products to schools. For the LFS grant, it is NOT required that vendors are in the Farm Fresh Network; please be aware that not all Farm Fresh Network members qualify for LFS. Grant participants must verify that any vendor/producer meets all LFS requirements before making LFS purchases for reimbursement.


 


Next Steps for Texas Agricultural Producers

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If you are a producer in Texas and would like to share your information with schools across the state, please register for the Farm Fresh Network.
  1. Watch Why Farm Fresh Matters to hear from successful Farm Fresh Network members.
  2. Join the Farm Fresh Network to share your information with schools across the state.
  3. Use this checklist when meeting with school nutrition staff.
  4. Find participating LFS schools in your area and what food products they are interested in purchasing by viewing the LFS Schools List.
  5. Connect with participating LFS schools using the 2023-2024 School Nutrition Program Sponsor List.


LFS Resources

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Updated 6/12/24
Click here to view the MEGACON 2024 LFS Session Slides
Click here to see the Local Food for Schools Reimbursement Training slides.
Click here for an LFS FAQ from the questions received during the past webinars and email inquiries. Updated 3/13/24
Click here for the Reimbursement Form Portal.
Click here for the LFS Payment Request Form to be completed for multiple invoices and ONE vendor/producer
Click here to view the list of LFS grant recipients.
Click here to view the LFS decision tree to determine LFS purchase eligibility.

 


Additional LFS Resources for Schools

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The LFS Grant Team is continually adding resources to support grant recipients. See below for helpful information and tools to guide you through the LFS program.
 

  1. Visit USDA’s Procuring Local Foods page to access the USDA Procuring Local Foods Guidebook, Serving Local Foods Webinar Series, Farm to School Fact Sheets, Policy and Regulations, and more.
  2. Review state procurement policies here: TDA ARM Section 17 and 17a-17c
  3. Find Texas Farm to School ready producers on TDA’s Farm Fresh Network Map
  4. Look at the TDA Farmer Profiles to see Texas farmers currently working with schools across Texas to provide local foods for school meals.
  5. Looking for Texas products? Visit TDA’s GO TEXAN Program website.
  6. Use the Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) Directory Search to find potential farm to school providers.
  7. Use the Texas Chamber of Commerce Directory to identify your local office and businesses in your area.
  8. Contact the local cooperative extension agent or educators to learn more about Texas local products. A list of Texas extension institutes can be found here.
  9. Texas Center for Local Food resources
  10. TDA Trainings:
    1. Basics of the Procurement Processes for NSLP
    2. Procurement & Reviews, Bridging the Gap ARM Section 17
    3. Farm Fresh Introduction to Farm to School
  11. ICN Trainings:
    1. “Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs” Training
    2. STAR: Farm to School: Procuring Local Foods
  12. CICN Trainings:
    1. “Produce Procurement: Understanding Availability and Specs, Determining What You Want, and the Importance of a Collaborative Relationship with Your Produce Distributor” Training
    2. Farm to School: Tips and Strategies for Purchasing Directly from Local Producers
    3. Farm to School Success Stories: Buying from Local Growers, Producers, and Processors
  13. Urban School Food Alliance’s – Farm to School Procurement Miniseries
  14. National Farm to School Network – Farm to School Resource Database


Office Hours

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TDA Food and Nutrition will have regular informational webinars to assist CEs with successfully implementing Local Food for Schools. Please attend the webinars or view the recordings. Click on the links below to view past recordings. We will post the most recent slides and webinar recording to make sure the information is current. If you are not receiving webinar invites or emails from localfoodgrant@texasagriculture.gov, please send us an email.


 
Webinars Slides
January 17, 2024* January 17, 2024
February 14, 2024 February 14, 2024
March 13, 2024 March 13, 2024
April 10, 2024 April 10, 2024
June 12, 2024
(Coming Soon!)
June 12, 2024
September 18, 2024 September 18, 2024

*Please note that the reimbursement process has been updated. 
 

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted 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; or
2. Fax: (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
 
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
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