Local Foods Procurement
Farm to Child Care ProcurementAll contracting entities participating in federally assisted meal programs must follow appropriate purchasing guidelines when incorporating farm to child care activities, including the purchase of local food. To access the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Policy and Handbook, go here.  

There are several options for incorporating local products into meal plans while following federal procurement regulations.
    • Talk to a contracted distributor to learn what local products are currently available. Ask if there are local options for some of the products you regularly purchase. 
    • Availability changes with the seasons. Use the Texas seasonality wheel to help with menu planning. Texas has mild winters and a long growing season so you can find local products all year long. 
    • Shop directly from a farmer. Use the Farm Fresh Network to find farmers, ranchers and distributors interested in selling to child care centers. 
    • Shop at a farmers market. Use our list of TDA certified farmers markets to find a listing near your facility. 
    • Grow your own produce in a garden! The costs of growing food that will be used for meal service or activities related to nutrition education are allowable. This includes, but is not limited to seeds, fertilizers, labor, and plot rental for center gardens. Review the Garden-Based Learning page for more information, resources and applicable USDA memos.

Procurement Resources  Minimize 
Defining Local Decision Tool
USDA expressly grants the authority for entities participating in Child Nutrition Programs and purchasing local food items with federal funding to define local, as long as procurement guidelines are followed.  This means that as a NSLP, CACFP, SFSP, or SSO participant you have the authority to define local.  This tool will walk you through two questions that will help you identify a definition of local based on your goals.

Procurement rules must always be followed when making purchases using federal Child Nutrition funds. Free, open competition must be maintained through all procurement processes, and you must document how you are defining local for each applicable purchase. Competition cannot be restricted by a narrow definition of local. Always reach out to your local Education Service Center (ESC) with any questions.

Local Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program with Questions and Answers
This USDA memo consolidates federal guidelines for local procurement for CACFP and provides recommendations for alternative methods of local procurement for family child care providers. 

Local Procurement Decision Tree
USDA released this resource offering a series of yes/no questions to help identify the appropriate procurement method to use when buying local. The tool also offers tips for how to source local items.

Geographic preference
Institutions receiving USDA nutrition program funds can apply an optional geographic preference in the procurement of unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products. It is important to remember that while a geographic preference may be used to encourage the purchase of local products, all procurement must be conducted in a manner that allows for maximum free and open competition.

Please review USDA’s Geographic Preference Frequently Asked Questions- Part I and Frequently Asked Questions- Part II for additional information.

Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs 

This USDA-developed guide provides relevant information for following procurement guidelines for purchasing local food. There is a specific section of the guide dedicated to buying food for child care programs.

For a full list of USDA procurement resources, please go here

Local Procurement for Child Care Centers
This tool, developed by the National Farm to School Network, includes recommendations for alternative methods of local procurement for child care centers.

Local Procurement for Family Child Care Providers 
This tool, developed by the National Farm to School Network, includes recommendations for alternative methods of local procurement family child care providers.

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, 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:

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

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Texas Department of Agriculture

Commissioner Sid Miller