We administer several federal programs that provide healthy food to children including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Each of these programs helps fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing organizations such as schools, child care centers, and after-school programs for providing healthy meals to children.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP) provides funds for schools to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. This program is an effective and creative way to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children. Elementary schools with 50% or more eligible for free or reduced-price meals are eligible to participate. Several schools in Vermont will be selected to participate. For more information, email Denise Blankenship or call (802) 828-2089.
USDA regulations require that School Food Authorities (SFAs) follow procurement practices that allow for fair and open competition when purchasing any goods or services with funds from the non-profit school food service account. USDA regulations specify that purchases below a small purchase threshold may be conducted using an informal procurement method. State of Vermont regulations, for food purchases, set the small purchase threshold at $250,000*. Local Supervisory Unions, Towns, or School Districts may set lower small purchase thresholds.
Below, you will find some excellent procurement resources from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:
- Please view the Specification Writing Webinar for more information.
- Summary – Writing Specifications for Food Service Equipment
- Equipment Purchasing and Facility Design for School Nutrition Programs
- Energy Star Information for Commercial Foodservice Equipment
- Water Efficiency for Commercial Kitchen Equipment
- Look for the ENERGY STAR and Find Savings in Your Commercial Kitchen
- ENERGY STAR Guide for Cafes, Restaurants, and Institutional Kitchens
Informal Procurement Method
When a purchase will fall below the small purchase threshold, SFAs should get prices for the same product or service from three or more vendors, record those prices, and go with the lowest price vendor that meets all requirements set out by the SFA. USDA and State of Vermont regulations do not require a specific format for documenting each procurement. However, documentation is required. You may find the following templates helpful in documenting purchases that fall under the small purchase threshold.
You may also choose to document procurement with your own spreadsheet, a paper or electronic file system, or any other written or electronic documentation that shows the procurement took place.
Formal Procurement Method
In Vermont, a formal procurement method, such as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Invitation for Bid (IFB) process must be followed for all food purchases of $250,000* or more, made out of the non-profit school food service account. If there is a lower small purchase threshold set by the Supervisory Union, Town, or School District, then a formal procurement method should be used for purchases above the local small purchase threshold. School Food Service Managers should request assistance from their Supervisory Union or School Business Managers in conducting a formal procurement process.
*Please note that this small purchase threshold is only for food purchases and is only for those food purchases made out of the non-profit school food service account. Any other purchases made out of the non-profit school food service account (such as equipment, supplies or services) are still subject to the $25,000 small purchase threshold which went into effect in 2018, or any applicable lower local threshold. 16 V.S.A., section 559 still sets a $15,000 small purchase threshold for certain other purchases outside of the non-profit school food service account, including the construction, purchase, lease, or improvement of any school building; the purchase or lease of an item or items required for supply, equipment, maintenance, repair, or transportation of students; or a contract for transportation, maintenance, or repair service
“Equipment” means an article of nonexpendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost, which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the School Food Authority (SFA) for financial statement purposes, or $5,000. USDA regulations require State Agency approval for purchases above this threshold using non-profit school food service account funds. For convenience, the State Agency is pre-approving the below list of equipment when purchased new. For all other items please complete the Equipment Purchase Approval Request Form, included in the document below.
Buy American Provision
The Buy American provision stipulates that SFAs must, to the maximum extent practicable, purchase domestic commodities or products for use in the Child Nutrition Programs. This promotes the dual nature of the programs, which is to feed children healthy meals and to support American agriculture.
“Domestic” is a product produced in the United States and is processed in the United States substantially using agricultural commodities that are produced in the United States. Products from Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands are allowed under this provision as US territories. “Substantially” means that over 51% of the final processed product consists of agricultural commodities that were grown domestically. There are two exceptions to this provision, which allow the purchase of foreign products. One is lack of availability and one is cost.
Availability: when the product is not produced or manufactured in the U.S. in sufficient and reasonably available quantities of a satisfactory quality. Example: There are no domestic bananas available. You may continue to serve foreign bananas.
Cost: when the cost of a U.S. product is significantly higher than the cost of a comparable foreign product. “Significantly” is not federally defined because it differs depending on the capacity of the program, but it is a best practice that it be defined by the SFA within its required written procurement procedures.
Use of these exceptions requires documentation. Please use the Buy American Provision Exception Sheet.
USDA published a rule in 2011 requiring schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to ensure that sufficient funds are provided to the non-profit food service account for paid student lunches and adult lunches. Reimbursement from free and reduced-price meals may not be used to support paid or adult lunches. Schools may meet this requirement through prices charged for paid student lunches and/or through local funds provided to the food service account targeted for paid meals. In School Year 2020-2021, the weighted average price of a paid lunch is $3.09. The Paid Lunch Equity Tool is intended to help schools determine what they should be charging for lunch or providing through local funds to the school food service account.
It is also recommended that schools evaluate their breakfast prices each year. The average price charged for breakfast in elementary schools ranges between $1.50 and $2.00.
In School Year 2019-2020, the minimum adult lunch price was $3.80.
For more information, contact: Rosie Krueger, Child Nutrition Programs, (802) 828-1589.
Professional development hours are required for all School Meal Program Staff based on the number of hours they work in a day and their job responsibilities.
- Professional Standards Resources
- Professional Standards Final Rule Summary
- Professional Standards Tracking Tool
- Questions & Answers (Q&As) on the Final Rule "Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs Personnel as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010"
School Food Authorities that have more than one site, must conduct and document on-site monitoring of the meal count system and other requirements. The on-site monitoring must be completed by February 1 each year.
Per the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Smart Snack guidelines govern the nutritional quality of all food sold during the school day on the school campus. The school day is defined as midnight until 30 minutes after the official end of the school day. This pertains to food sold by any entity, including food service, student clubs, PTAs, and CTE programs. This includes food sold in the cafeteria, school stores, vending machines, and for fundraisers. Food-based fundraisers during the school day must sell Smart Snack compliant products or be food that is not intended for consumption during the school day, such as cookie dough or a pizza kit.
- USDA FNS A Guide to Smart Snacks in School
- Alliance for a Healthier Generation Smart Snacks Product Calculator
The Wellness Policy requirement was established by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 and further strengthened by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It requires each LEA participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program to develop a Wellness Policy.
Programs procure, prepare, serve, handle and store food in a safe and sanitary manner. Programs must operate in compliance with the Vermont Food Code. Each kitchen must have Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP)-based Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
- The Use of Share Tables in Child Nutrition Programs
- Vermont Food Sharing Tables - Guidance for Schools
- Guidance on the Food Donation Program in Child Nutrition Programs
- Vermont Guidance for Food Donation: Businesses and Institutions
If the Point of Service (POS) for PreK sutdents is separate from other students, their meals must follow the CACFP meal pattern.
- Serving School Meals to Preschoolers
- Non Co-Mingled PreK Quick Guide
- Flexibility for Co-Mingled Preschool Meals: Questions and Answers
- Updated Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program; Questions and Answers
- Family Style Meal Service
- Family Style Dining Tips
- Co-Mingled vs. Non-Co-Mingled Pre-K and Pre-K Meal Pattern Training