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Local Procurement

Overview

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Purchasing local goods and services supports surrounding communities and economies, helps the environment, and makes for a safer food supply. The definition of “local” is defined by each School Food Authority (SFA). There is no federal definition. The SFA’s definition of local may change seasonally, or with the type of product, or special event. Local can be defined by a certain number of miles from the SFA, within the county, the state, or adjacent state(s), etc. Below are resources for procuring locally.
 
For more information on starting a Farm to School (F2S) program, visit the SNT F2S Webpage.

Sourcing Local Goods and Services

Schools can connect with local producers, ranchers, and farmers through a few different channels. Consider using the Wisconsin Local Foods Database as a place to begin searching for producers, ranchers, and farmers in your area. Connections can be made by calling, emailing, meeting in person, or if necessary, sending out a written solicitation.
 
  • Prime vendor (AKA commercial distributor)
  • Direct to farmer
  • School garden
  • Farmer’s market or auction
  • Food hub, coop, or aggregator
  • Community garden
  • USDA Foods, like DoD
  • Direct to Processor

Common Procurement Methods

Most SFAs utilize informal procurement to obtain local goods and services. Before deciding which method to use, estimate the value of your purchase and have your specifications defined. In short, the value of a micro-purchase is estimated by transaction and is the most flexible method. Whereas, a small-purchase and formal procurement are estimated based on volume used over the course of a typical school year.
 

Local Procurement Decision Tree

 

Informal

  • Micro-purchase (non-competitive)
  • Small-purchase (3 Bids and a Buy)

Formal

  • Invitation for Bid (IFB)
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)

Identify Needs and Define Local 

To make a purchase, first identify your needs. Procurement terminology refers to this process as “creating specifications”. For example, what exact product do you need to purchase? Ask a few questions like: How much do you need? When do you need it? Do you need organic? What size or type do you need? 
 

Step 1

Conduct market research. If you do not know exactly what you are looking for, or what is out there, do some research. This process is referred to as “ Request for Information (RFI)”. This is similar to conducting a survey of what is available in your area. At this time, you are not buying the product or service, just collecting information to create your specifications and better defining your needs. For example, you may reach out to a few tomato suppliers or farmers to discuss the tomato products they offer (size, type, organic, quantity, season(s) of availability, etc.).

Step 2

After you do your research, use the specifications developed during the RFI to request pricing. You may need to communicate further with suppliers to educate them on your specifications and the unique needs of the Child Nutrition Programs. When the specifications are clearly defined, suppliers will be able to provide comparable pricing. 

Example: Whole beefsteak heirloom tomato (or equivalent slicing tomato), medium size, 30 lb. case, estimated volume to purchase 15-20 cases per week during growing season.

Step 3

Define local for your SFA. Your definition of local may change by product and season. For informal procurements like micro-purchase and small-purchase, keep the definition in mind when deciding who to contact for pricing. For formal procurements (IFB or RFP), include the definition as part of your written specifications.

"Geographic Preference" is another way to "define local" when an SFA wishes to give an advantage to local sellers by assigning points for "proposals" or reduction in "bid price" for evaluation purposes. Overview of Geographic Preference, USDA .

Wisconsin Local Food for Schools (WI LFS) Program

Overview

Wisconsin received $3,447,772 from the USDA  to purchase local unprocessed and minimally processed food to help with the challenges of supply chain disruptions. Through the WI LFS Program, Wisconsin will issue non-competitive sub-awards to School Food Authorities (SFAs) and Non-SFAs. Funds may be used for purchasing domestic, local, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods for distribution to eligible SFAs participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP/SBSEVERE). The WI LFS Program will build a more resilient local food chain by expanding and strengthening local and regional markets. Purchases will target small business and/or socially disadvantaged farmers/producers.
 
See the Application Materials section below to review program requirements and apply for funding. Return here for future program communications and updates. 
 

Application Materials

Please review all materials below before applying. Both SFAs and Non-SFAs are eligible for sub-awards. SFAs are not required (but encouraged) to participate in the LFS Program.  Applications are due Tuesday October 18, 2022. Wisconsin DPI SNT reserves the right to accept applications beyond this date based on funds available.
 

Webinar and Office Hours

Questions regarding this funding opportunity can be directed to dpisntlfsprogram@dpi.wi.gov.