skip nav

Procurement and Geographic Preference

Buying Locally-Grown Food

When purchasing locally-grown food, it is critical that school districts follow federal, state and school district requirements for use of school food dollars. There are a range of policies and procedures on each level that affect school food procurement.

Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network and Washington Environmental Council partnered to develop "A School's Guide to Purchasing Washington-Grown Food." The guide clarifies today’s rules about how to apply a geographic preference in school food purchases and help school districts increase their use of Washington-grown food in accordance with rules and regulations at all levels of government. It also includes resources sections, with templates, policy examples and government guidance to support local purchasing. The project was part of a Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health-Seattle & King County.

Click on the image below to view the guide.

             Procurement Guide Cover Image


A  Micropurchase threshold introduced by USDA in early 2015.  If a purchase is valued under $10,000, school districts can purchase products under this threshold without obtaining multiple bids or quotes.  This offers additional flexiblity for small purchases and can be very useful for direct purchases from farms and for seasonal specialty items. (Previously, as you will see in the guide, USDA required competitive price quotes or bids for ALL purchases, no matter how small.)

**Updated tools and templates are listed in the "Documents" section below.

The tools and templates are developed and piloted with the Community Transformation Grant 2012-14 South King County Farm to School Collaborative Project and made possible with funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information about the project, visit CTG Project page.

Washington State's OSPI Child Nutrition Program Procurement Reference Sheet outlines different state and local thresholds for pruchases, and the basic procurement process.

USDA also provides procurement information, including a Q&A for procurement for Farm to School [external link] that addresses the formal and informal bid process.

For information about procuremet of local meat/poultry/seafood, visit Meat/Poultry/Seafood Solicitation page.

Past Events: 

Statewide Training and Technical Assistance for School Districts focused on local procurement and the Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program. Trainings, technical assistance, and one on one consultation were offered in six locations throughout the state from April - May 2016.  These trainings were designed to provide information and technical support for the purchase of minimally processed fruits and vegetables for school districts. These trainings were made possible through funding and in partnership with OSPI.

How to Buy and Serve Washington Grown Foods Workshops for school nutrition directors and food purchasing officers. WSDA is offering workshops at 4-6 locations around the state, designed to discuss recent Geographic Preference Option available to schools to increase purchases of Washington-grown food, and to discuss purchasing, food safety and other critical issues in farm to school implementation.  Two recent resources are distributed at the workshops:

A School's Guide to Purchasing Washington-Grown Food

SAFE Salad Bars in Schools:  A Guide for School Food Service

These purchasing workshops were held in Skagit County, Pierce County, Chelan County, and Cowlitz County in 2013, and in Ellensburg, Tri-Cities, and Spokane in 2014.  These workshops were made possible through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.


Last Updated: 11/5/2018