New rules from the U.S. Department of Education allow schools and other institutions to give preference to unprocessed, locally grown and locally raised foods that they buy for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service, and other federal meal programs.
As a part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that became law last year, the provision is intended to give farm-to-school programs a boost while helping local farmers.
The fruits, vegetables, meats and poultry, and dairy products allowed under the new rule would only qualify if they are relatively unprocessed. They may be refrigerated, frozen, peeled, sliced, cut, ground, dried, washed, and, in the case of dairy products, pasteurized, but canned and pickled items wouldn’t qualify.
A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2011 edition of Education Week as Federal Rules Let Schools Give Local Food Preference