I have good news to share!
The USDA has revised the definition of “unprocessed products” that may be purchased by schools with geographic preference (which means that school food service directors can specify for and “prefer” locally-grown or –raised agricultural products in their procurement processes). As the attached memo explains, unprocessed products which “retain their inherent character” may now include those products that have been cooled, refrigerated, frozen, peeled, sliced, diced, cut, chopped, shucked, ground, dried/dehydrated, washed, cold pasteurized, vacuum packed, bagged, butchered, and pasteurized. This greatly expands the opportunities to get local products in usable forms for school food service!
The definition of unprocessed products in this memo will be effective until the final rule is drafted. I’ll be sure to share that with you when I get notice of it.
Farm to School Specialist
CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
Michigan State University
303 Natural Resources Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1222