August 2018
Farm Fresh Spotlight Story
USDA Memo Provides Guidance for Using School Food Service Funds to Purchase School Garden Supplies
USDA School Food Service Funds for School Garden Supplies Valued under $5,000

The following is adapted from USDA Memo SP 06 - 2015, Farm to School and School Garden Expenses:

Question: Can a school food authority (SFA) use nonprofit school food service funds to buy supplies or equipment for the school garden or school farm?

Answer: if the garden is used within the context of the school meal programs and serves the purpose of operating and improving the school meal program, supplies and equipment for the school garden may be purchased with funds from the nonprofit school food service account as long as the purchase is "necessary, reasonable, and allocable."

To assess whether the expenses are "necessary, reasonable, and allocable,"  USDA has developed a series of three questions that an SFA can use.

1. Could the CE justify the purchase to USDA, TDA, the media, or auditors? Would a taxpayer deem the cost to be appropriate for the objectives of the SNP?

2. Would a prudent person consider the cost to be reasonable? Is the cost charged at a fair rate or do alternatives exist that may be more cost effective?

3. Does the item or service support the operation of the program? Does the item or service help the CE to achieve program objectives ( Administrative Review Manual Section 14- Financial Information Concerning School Nutrition Funds)?

USDA School Food Service Funds for School Garden Equipment Valued at More Than $5,000

Also noted in USDA memo SP06-2015 is the purchase of equipment or supplies with an acquisition cost greater than $5,000.

Classifying movable structures (e.g., hoop houses, high and low tunnels) as a supply or equipment is dependent upon the acquisition cost. If these items have an acquisition cost less than $5,000, they are considered supplies. Other supplies such as seeds, fertilizers, watering cans, rakes, etc., would also be considered supplies so long as the products grown in the school garden are used within the context of the child nutrition program. Equipment costs exceeding $5,000 require written approval from the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Definition of capital equipment (2 CFR Part 225 Appendix B Section 15): "an article or non-expendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost which equals or exceeds ... $5,000."

A capital expense request may be used to support a school garden program. However, consider the answers to the following questions before submitting a capital expense request:

1)  Will more than just the child nutrition division be using and benefiting from the school garden?
a)  If the answer to this question is yes, will each team be contributing proportionately to the overall cost of the project
2)  Will the proposed acquisition increase the property value of the facility?
a)  If the answer to this question is yes, a capital expense request is likely not the right avenue to fund this project. Consider hosting a fundraiser or working to identify an alternative funding source.
3)  Is the expense reasonable?
a)  If the answer to this question is no, you must seek new bids or look for an alternative vendor for this supply purchase.
How to Submit a Capital Expense Request
1. Log in to TX-UNPS.
2. Enter the Application tab and click "Capital Expenditure Request."
3. Select the option to "Create a New Request."
4. Complete the data fields and follow all instructions on the application page to complete a new Capital Expense request.

Contact your local ESC office if you have additional questions about submitting a capital expense request.

Farm to School Spotlight
Farm Fresh Fridays
Registration open for 2018 Farm Fresh Challenge

Register for the Farm Fresh Challenge by August 15th to receive Farm Fresh materials by September 1st. 

Eat Local. 
Teach Local. Be Social.

During October 2018, Texas schools are invited to participate in the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Farm Fresh Challenge  (formerly known as the Local Products Challenge).

It is open to all TDA contracting entities (CE) in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Every year, the Challenge offers a  fun and engaging way for school nutrition professionals and their schools to gain recognition  for efforts to bring local foods and garden-based learning activities to their students. For more information, visit .

Application Period Open for GreenWorks! Grants

Project Learning Tree offers GreenWorks! grants of up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world. Students help design and implement an action project to green, or add natural elements to, their school or to improve an aspect of their neighborhood's environment. Funds can be used by students to build school gardens; implement recycling programs at school; water and energy conservation projects;improve a forest or a natural habitat; and many more ideas. Applications are due Sept. 30.   Learn more here.

Farm to Summer Spotlight
TDA Partners Complete Summer Farm Fresh Challenge
Congratulations to all participants of the first-ever Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Summer Farm Fresh Challenge! Summer Meal Programs across Texas helped connect participants to fresh, local, healthy foods, boost local economies, and encourage positive engagement with parents and families . Summer Meal Programs that participated in the two-week challenge collectively spent over $200,000 on local products that were served to Texas children 18 years old and younger from June 11-22.
Eat Local.Teach Local. 
Be Social.

Check out to view the list of Summer Food Service Program participants that completed the challenge!

Producer Spotlight
Minority Landowner Workshop Scheduled for Sept. 5 and 6
Each year Minority Landowner Magazine hosts an event in collaboration with Natural Resource Conservation Service NRCS to provide a program to assist with the installation of High Tunnels for landowners.
High Tunnels are an increasingly popular trend for growers and proven technology for crop production. The difference between a High Tunnel and a regular free standing greenhouse is that they use longer ground posts, making them "high" tunnels.
This year's event will be held just outside Waco in Bellmead. This is a great event for landowners to learn firsthand about NRCS programs, hear from producers that have worked with them, as well as hear from other experts on financial and environmental assistance programs available to farmers and ranchers.
For more information, view their flyer .

Farm Fresh Network Welcomes New Members!
We would like to welcome new members The Hyde Homestead and Lopez Vera Produce to the TDA Farm Fresh Network!

The Hyde Homestead is owned and operated by Kelly Hyde, in Seguin. Kelly takes pride in her farm fresh cucumbers and tomatoes that she looks forward to selling to schools within her community.

Lopez Vera Produce was established in 2016 by Uriel Lopez. Uriel harvests a variety of produce in McAllen, including citrus, melons, mixed greens, and onions.

Visit to check out the map of Farm Fresh Network members statewide. Texas farmers, ranchers, and distributors can create a Farm Fresh Network profile online and get started connecting with schools, child and adult care centers, and summer meal programs.

Contact TDA
Emilee Case
Coordinator for Farm Fresh Projects

Beatrice Watson
Farm Fresh Specialist

Email us or call
(877) TEX-MEAL
Connect with Others
Texas Statewide Network
This LinkedIn Group is an online network connecting schools, child and adult care centers, producers, support organizations and community members with important information about expanding local food efforts in Texas.
Join Today!

Texas Farm Fresh Network
Use this tool to connect with Texas food companies that currently sell or are interested in selling to schools, child care centers and summer meal programs. Company listings include contact information, product availability and distribution radius.
Funding Opportunities
Financial support from organizations may help establish or advance local Farm Fresh initiatives.
Go here  for a list of opportunities from TDA, USDA and other organizations.