USDA Farm to School E-letter - August 6, 2013

United States Department of Agriculture Farm to School Program E-letter

August 6, 2013 | Volume 2, Issue 14

Geographic Preference Fact Sheet

News & Updates

New Geographic Preference Resources
One of the best tools for schools looking to buy local food is the geographic preference option, which allows purchasers to include language in solicitations so that vendors who can supply local products have an edge. Schools get to decide for themselves how to define local, how much preference to give to local items, and how exactly to structure their solicitations. Now, two new resources are available to help schools incorporate geographic preference correctly and successfully! 

The USDA farm to school team recently developed a fact sheet titled Geographic Preference: What it is and how to use it, which gives a quick overview of the law and associated regulations and then walks through three ways to use the geographic preference option. In addition, School Food FOCUS has just released Geographic Preference: A primer on purchasing fresh local food for schools, which provides step-by-step guidance on how to implement a geographic preference policy, starting with articulating the legal authority and rationale for buying local foods. For more helpful procurement links, check out our resources page.

It's National Farmers Market Week!
August 4 to 10 is National Farmers Market Week, when we celebrate the myriad benefits to growers, consumers, and communities that farmers markets offer. At a kick-off celebration last weekend, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in USDA's National Farmers Market Directory, up from about 5,000 in 2008. For farm to school practitioners, this is great news! Farmers markets are wonderful venues to connect with new farmers, bring students on field trips, or simply to find out what’s local and in season. Be sure to celebrate this special week by buying directly from producers at a farmers market near you!  

kids swimming with farm backdrop

Bits from Blogs

Summer Harvests Can Turn Into Summer Meals for Kids
(photo credit: Lindsay Morris) Summer is the season when harvests of healthful foods are most abundant: gardens overflow with zucchini and berries, trees are laden with sweet, ripe fruit, and farmers tend and harvest crops from dawn until dusk. Despite the seasonal abundance, many children go hungry when school is out and the food programs that fed them during the year are no longer part of their daily routine. MORE >

USDA Officials Talk about New Meal and Snack Standards at New York City School
Our children are our most prized possessions and we must do whatever it takes to help them excel in the future. Leading them on the path to becoming part of a healthier generation, USDA revised the standards for meals and snacks served in their schools. Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to a New York City high school to see first-hand how students were adjusting to the new standards. MORE >

Stay up-to-date on all the latest USDA news and stories on the USDA Blog!