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. Learn more about the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Meal regulations.
Meal Pattern Crediting Resources
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP) provides an opportunity to receive funding for fresh fruits and vegetables in schools. This program is an effective and creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options for children. Elementary Schools with 50% or more eligible for free or reduced-price meals are eligible to participate. Schools that participate in the program will be able to offer free fruits and vegetables to students during the school day. Several schools in Vermont will be selected to participate. For more information, email Cheryl Rogers or call (802) 479-1360.
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 set the small purchase threshold at $25,000. Local Supervisory Unions, Towns, or School Districts may set lower small purchase thresholds.
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 purchases of $15,000 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.
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 or adult lunches. Reimbursement earned on 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. For the school year 2016-2017, USDA has set the weighted average price of a paid lunch at $2.78. 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.
Adult meal prices for the school year 2016-2017 must be at least $3.45 to meet requirements. It is also recommended that schools evaluate their breakfast prices for next year. The average price charged for breakfast in elementary schools ranges between $1.25 and $1.50.
For more information, contact: Rosie Kruger, Child Nutrition Programs, (802) 479-1246.
School Food Authorities that have more than one site, and those that contract with a food service management company (whether or not there are multiple sites), must conduct and document on-site monitoring of the meal count system. The on-site monitoring must be completed by February 1 each year.
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.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), Public Law 111-296, strengthens the existing food safety requirements in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and all other Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs operated in a school. Section 302 of the Act amends section 9(h)(5) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1758(h)(5)) by requiring that the school food safety program based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles be applied to any facility or part of a facility in which food is stored, prepared or served for the purposes of the NSLP, SBP or other FNS programs. The school food safety program, required since 2004, addresses food safety in all aspects of school meal preparation, ranging from procurement through service. FNS anticipates that only minor modifications to existing food safety programs will be needed in order to meet this requirement.