Attention School Food Authorities! Free local food is available for your school meal programs through your local food hub.
The Local Food For Schools (LFS) Program is a partnership with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and Vermont food hubs to provide local food to Vermont schools at no cost to the schools. This is a one-time program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
What is it?
- Each School Food Authority (SFA) is assigned to a food hub and allocated a budget for food purchases from that food hub.
- The SFA’s assigned food hub will make available the allocated amount as a line of credit at the food hub, which can be used to purchase food that meet the following criteria:
- Local or regional food, domestic, and minimally processed foods*
- All foods must be utilized in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) meal programs
How much funding is available for each SFA in Vermont?
- The SFA Allocations and Food Hub Sales Contacts document specifies the amount available for each SFA to purchase local food through their local food hub.
- The amount allocated to each SFA is based on enrollment data from the Vermont Agency of Education
- LFS allocations per SFA range from $1,000 to $13,400.
How does it work?
- SFAs will access their allocated budget for local food by working directly with the sales contact at their assigned food hub to:
- Establish an account with their local food hub if the SFA is not already a customer.
- Get 1:1 support to access and utilize the funds reserved for their SFA to purchase local food.
- Schedule orders and deliveries of local product to their SFA, paid for with LFS program funds.
- Food hubs will keep track of how much funding is still available in each SFA account.
- SFAs are encouraged to equitably distribute the food purchased with LFS funds amongst the schools in their SFA.
When can SFAs order the free local food?
- SFAs and food hubs will connect to determine scheduling and logistics for delivery.
- SFAs can begin placing orders against their local food allocation as soon as they have connected with a sales contact at their assigned food hub and confirmed they can work with them to utilize their LFS funds.
- Some SFAs may need to be on-boarded as new customers to a food hub if they haven’t purchased from them before.
- All food must be ordered from March 2023 - January 31, 2024.
- SFAs in Addison and Rutland Counties may not utilize LFS funds until after March 27, 2023, unless otherwise specified. See below for specific considerations for SFAs in these counties.
Where is the LFS funding coming from?
- The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets received funding from a USDA cooperative agreement grant to implement this project.
- This is a one-time funding opportunity for SFAs to get free local food, delivered by a local food hub, and paid for by USDA.
- Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will pay the food hubs for the price of food ordered by SFAs, up to the maximum allowable amount per SFA, as outlined in the SFA Allocations and Food Hub Sales Contacts document.
Considerations for SFAs in Addison and Rutland Counties
SFAs in Addison and Rutland Counties have a choice as to which of the two assigned food hubs they wish to work with. SFAs can only choose one food hub to partner with on this project. SFAs must decide and communicate that decision to both food hubs available to them by March 27, 2023. SFAs in these counties cannot make any purchases against their local food funds until they communicate that decision to the food hubs. If an SFA in Addison or Rutland County does not communicate a decision by March 27, 2023, VAAFM will automatically assign a food hub to partner with and notify the SFA. VAAFM recommends SFAs in these counties browse both food hub catalogs available to them and call both sales representatives to determine which will be the best fit for their needs.
- USDA Definition of Local or Regional Food: Locally and Regionally Produced Food means food that is raised, produced, aggregated, stored, processed, and distributed in the locality or region where the final product is marketed to consumers, so that the total distance that the product travels between the farm or ranch where the product originates and the point of sale to the end consumer is at most 400 miles, or both the final market and the origin of the product are within the same state or territory.
- A note on the Vermont Local Definition: It is not required that all foods purchased under this award also meet the Act 129 Vermont definition of “local”, but products that do meet the local definition can be counted towards an SFA’s application to the Vermont Agency of Education Local Foods Incentive Grant.
- Domestic food products: Agricultural Commodity means a product grown, processed, and otherwise prepared for sale or distribution exclusively in the United States or its territories, except with respect to minor ingredients. Minor ingredients from nondomestic sources will be allowed to be utilized as a United States product if such ingredients are not otherwise: (1) produced in the United States; and (2) commercially available in the United States at fair and reasonable prices from domestic sources. The following ingredients are determined by AMS Commodity Procurement as not available at fair and reasonable prices and are waived from U.S. origin restrictions: (1) Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate), (2) Vitamin D, (3) Carageenan (stabilizing agent), (4) Sorbic Acid (preservative), (5) Potassium Sorbate (preservative), (6) Rennet (coagulant), (7) Items excepted from the Buy American Act under FAR 25.104 Nonavailable Articles.
- Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: Examples of allowable food products include fruits and vegetables (including 100% juices); grain products such as pastas and rice; meats (whole, pieces, or food items such as ground meats); meat alternates such as beans or legumes, and fluid milk and other dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt. Foods in a wide variety of minimal processing states (e.g., whole, cut, pureed, etc.) and/or forms (e.g., fresh, frozen, canned, dried, etc.) are also allowable.
Foods that are generally understood to be significantly processed or prepared are unallowable. Examples of unallowable products would include baked goods such as breads, muffins, or crackers; prepackaged sandwiches or meals; other prepared and/or pre-cooked items that come ready-to-eat or that require no further preparation beyond heating (e.g., chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pre-made pizzas, etc.).
Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-585-6225
Funding for the Vermont Local Food for Schools Program was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM22CPLFS000C010. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.