Please see the message below and attachments from the National Farm to School Network regarding the public comment period for the final rule for "geographic preference", which allows school food service directors to prefer locally grown and raised unprocessed products for Child Nutrition Programs like school meals and snack programs. For additional reference, I've attached the current proposed rule and two of the past USDA guidance memos addressing this issue.
If you would like to weigh in on the topic of geographic preference and local food purchasing at schools, please submit your comments by this FRIDAY, JUNE 18th through one of these methods:
-Federal E-rulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R-0900006480adaf6f
-Fax to Melissa Rothstein at 703-305-2879
Policy & Program Development Branch
Child Nutrition Division Food and Nutrition Service, USDA
3101 Park Center Drive, Room 634
Alexandria, VA 22302
Farm to Institution Specialist
CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
Michigan State University
303 Natural Resources Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1222
From: sara tedeschi [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Needed! Comments to USDA on Geographic Preference rule by June 18th
Greetings all -
Most of you are well aware of the past two USDA memos (post Farm Bill) allowing and defining the use of geographic preference in school food purchasing protocol. Now is the public comment period prior to the language becoming law. It is important that we weigh in and ensure that there is clarification on what is and is not allowed under the terminology "processed."
The National Farm to School Network has put together an informative and very helpful backgrounder (attached), as well as supplied a sample letter, also attached. The link to the proposed rule can be accessed via the backgrounder.
Please consider taking the time to submit a letter within the next week to ensure that this crucial aspect of local purchasing is further clarified and that we do not end up with a rule that prohibits (purposely or via vague language) the types of minimal processing becoming more and more important in farm to school efforts.
The Network also suggests that if you choose to make this very easy, one can simply state to the USDA "we support the comments of the CFSC and the National Farm to School Network."
Food Service directors who are engaged in purchasing any kind of minimally processed produce or meat items would be great individuals to submit letters. Please share this request with the Directors you think might be motivated to provide thier input.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks for your expert assistance at this time!
Sara M. Tedeschi
Great Lakes Farm to School Network Coordinator Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems University of Wisconsin, Madison www.cias.wisc.edu www.farmtoschool.org email@example.com 608-513-3980