WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with California for more than $23 million to increase their purchase of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.
Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), California Department of Education (CDE) will purchase and distribute local and regional foods and beverages for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These products will be healthy and unique to their geographic area, with the goal of improving child nutrition and building new relationships between schools and local farmers.
“This cooperative agreement supporting California schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program provides an opportunity for states to strengthen ties between local farmers, ranchers, food businesses and schools, and gives students access to nutritious foods unique to the area they live in, building stronger connections across local communities.”
“Strengthening relationships between local producers and schools is a long-term strategy to ensure our children always have access to nutritious foods in school, a win-win for child health and American agriculture,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “Through this program and many other efforts to support the school meal programs, USDA is committed to giving schools the tools they need to set children up to learn, grow, and thrive.”
With the LFS funds, CDE will strengthen local and regional purchasing relationships between School Food Authorities (SFA) participating in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program with local farmers and producers. Schools and students will benefit from the economic support from the program to continue to provide fresh and minimally processed local foods in school meals.
“California is thrilled to receive over $23 million in local assistance funding from USDA for our schools operating the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. As the first state in the nation to adopt a permanent Universal Meals Program for our students, this funding aligns with the historic investments California is making to transform schools and ensure every public school student has access to not only a nutritious breakfast and lunch each school day, but also meals that are minimally processed, delicious, culturally relevant, California-grown and sourced from historically underserved producers” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
The LFS cooperative agreements will allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area. Additionally, the program will provide more opportunities for historically underserved producers and processors to sell their products. Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program is authorized by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act. AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program.
The Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement program is one of many ways USDA is supporting school meal programs this school year and transforming our food system in the long term.
For more information on USDA’s work to support school meal programs visit USDA Support for School Meals page.
For more information on USDA’s efforts to transform our food system, visit Build Back Better page.