Procurement and School Food Service

There are three binding principals to good procurement. 

  • Purchase with as much free and open competition possible.

This means publicizing the solicitation to largest area possible.
Written specifications are not overly restrictive.


  • Responsive Vendors

Vendor meets the terms of the solicitation.
Vendor has experience, facilities and financial resources.


  • Responsible Vendors

       Vendor is capable of performing under terms and conditions of contract.


Purchasing Methods for the National School Lunch Program

There are 4 basic methods to purchase products for the National School Lunch Program.

  • Micro purchases are purchases less than $10,000.  These do not require competitive quotes, but do require you to distribute the purchases around with different suppliers.  Documentation, such as copies of invoices, must be kept to demonstrate the purchases have been shared among suppliers.
  • Small purchases are purchases less than the district or Federal purchase threshold of $150,000.  Quotes are required but do not need to be formal.  They can be emailed, oral, written, etc. and must be competitively shopped for. 
  • Formal purchases are any purchase greater than the small purchase threshold.  This requires a formal bid process and a contract.  There are several steps to this process and documentation is required.  This includes “Invitation to Bid” and “Request for Proposal.”
  • Noncompetitive Proposal – this is a method that should be seldom used.  It can be used when there is inadequate or no competition and when the other purchasing methods are not applicable.  Single source and public emergency may be considered noncompetitive.  However, an emergency is not poor planning.   

Procurement procedures are outlined in 2 CFR 200.320 and 7CFR 210 regulations. 

Small Purchase checklist ICN

USDA Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs

USDA Procurement Regulations