FARM TO SCHOOL / NEW MEXICO GROWN
The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) is committed to fostering healthy school environments and increasing market access for New Mexico growers through the New Mexico Grown Farm to School Program. Specifically, farm to school includes one or more of the following program elements: 1) procurement, 2) school gardens and outdoor classrooms, and 3) food education. PED works to strengthen K-12 public, private, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and tribally-controlled schools and school districts’ connection to fresh, healthy food and the local food producers by changing purchasing and education practices across New Mexico.
New Mexico Grown Grant & School Food Authorities (SFA) Resources
The purpose of the New Mexico Grown Grant, is to encourage school districts across New Mexico to purchase fresh and minimally processed fruit and vegetables, and meat products that are grown in the state for school meals. The Public Education Department will work to foster links between schools and local farms and/or farm organizations so that freshly harvested local foods become a staple in the diets of New Mexico students. The funding for New Mexico Grown is made available through a SY23-24 state appropriation.
- Week of February 27, 2023: Application opens
- Friday, March 31, 2023 at 5:00pm.: Application due
- Friday, April 21, 2023: Awardees announced
- July 1, 2023: Funds available to spend for SY23-24
- May 31, 2024: Deadline to expend all funds
- June 30, 2024: Deadline to enter RfR’s into OBMS
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How is “local” defined for the New Mexico Grown Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant, and what type of product is covered?
“Local” is defined as fruit or vegetables grown and harvested within the geographic boundaries of the State of New Mexico. Reimbursable purchases must be uncooked and produce (yield of a vegetable or fruit crop) that was delivered within 36 hours of being harvested. Dried beans and processed chile are allowable purchases.
2. What are the most common crops that schools buy?
Please refer to the Allowable Products List, linked below. The goggle sheet lists all of the items offered this year, will provide you with an idea of the items that may be available for your District next school year.
3. By what date do Food Service Directors have to spend the grant money?
For SY23-24, all funds must be spent by May 31, 2024 with the added caveat that adequate progress must be made in spending down the funds by February 1, 2024. While it is encouraged that FSDs purchase throughout the year in partnership with growers utilizing season extension, it is essential that the monies are used in a timely fashion.
4. What is the procurement process for purchasing New Mexico grown food?
Food Service Directors are required to follow normal procurement guidelines, which means that fair and open competition is the law of the land. The following procurement methods apply to the purchase of local product for school meals:
- The micro-purchase process is used when annual expenditures fall under the threshold of $3,500. This process is extremely easy and allows growers to sell to schools without going through a burdensome procurement process. This noncompetitive approach is widely used by smaller districts because FSDs can purchase product directly from an individual grower without documenting three quotes from growers and/or vendors in their region.
- The informal procurement method is used when the aggregated annual expenditure is between $3,500 and the New Mexico small-purchase threshold ¬of $60,000. In this scenario Food Service Directors are required to obtain and document three quotes from three different bidders.
- The formal bid process is often used by larger districts, whether the annual expenditure is above $60,000 or not, and may be required for all growers wishing to sell to these markets. To participate in this process, each grower must submit a formal bid during the district’s annual Request for Bid / Invitation to Bid, which usually falls in the spring to prepare for the upcoming school year. Food Service Directors should understand this process, and additional technical assistance resources will be posted on the PED website following announcement of awardees.
5. Are there GAP / Food Safety Certification requirements for growers?
It’s important to note that although GAP certification is not required for growers to sell to schools, it is a requirement that food purchased under this grant program is purchased from vendors listed on the Approved Supplier List.
6. What type of liability insurance is required to sell to districts?
Although a uniform liability policy is not required across the board, many districts do require product liability insurance at a minimum of $1-million-dollars for all growers selling to their schools. If this is required, there are opportunities for group insurance policies for growers. First inquire with the Food Service Director regarding their requirement, and if barriers emerge reach out the contacts listed above.
7. How do we prove the product was grown in New Mexico?
Invoicing procedures vary by district, but it’s required that all growers include farm name, farm location (physical address), and harvest and delivery date on their box labels and invoices. Food and Nutrition Services and/or Procurement Departments reserve the right to inspect facilities to ensure growing operation is in New Mexico as well to confirm that sound food safety practices and traceability documentation is being utilized on farm.
8. How much money should each district expect to be awarded?
The award process will depend on number of students, demonstrated need through free and reduced price lunch percentages, and if the program is in good standing with the PED Student Success & Wellness Bureau. For SY23-24 SY we can project a few scenarios occurring: 1) maintaining this funding per district and increasing the number of districts that are awarded money, or 2) increasing the amount of funding per district. The final allocation calculation will depend on the number of districts that apply for the grant funding.
NM Grown Awardees for SY23-24
NM Grant Application for SY23-24
Please note, applications for the NM Grant for SY23-24 closes, Friday, March 31, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. You must complete and submit your application online. If you have questions or need additional support please contact Alena.Paisano@ped.nm.gov
SFA Resources for NM Grown Grant Recipients:
- New Mexico Grown Awardees SY 22-23
- Buyer SFA Contact List & Award Amounts (SY21-22)
- NM Grown Grant – Overview & Reimbursement Process for SFAs
- NM Grown Grant – Allowable Purchases
- NM Grown Grant – Purchasing Checklist for SFAs
- NM Grown Grant – Produce Tracking Template for SFAs
- OBMS Training Guide – Request for Reimbursement RfR Step by Step Instructions
New Mexico Grown Approved Supplier Program
The New Mexico Grown Approved Supplier Program is designed to grow and diversify the base of New Mexico producers selling to schools and other institutions. The program helps to assure that fresh produce that moving through schools is safe, traceable, and originates from a garden or farm using sound and current food safety practices. The program also helps connect statewide farmers and buyers, and streamlines internal purchasing processes statewide.
If you are a farmer or farmer organization interested in learning more about how to sell to schools through the program, please visit New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association Website to learn more and apply to become a New Mexico Grown Approved Supplier.
- Approved Supplier List SY 23-24
- New Mexico Grown Approved Supplier Program Guidance (English)
- New Mexico Grown Approved Supplier Program Guidance (Español)
- Annual Program Process Flowchart (English)
- Annual Program Process Flowchart (Español)
- Approved Course List (English)
- Approved Course List (Español)
Farm to School Value Chain Resources for Buyers & Growers
- Product and Price Guide (English)
- Product and Price Guide (Español)
- How to Get Started (English)
- How to Get Started (Español)
- Seasonality Chart
Regional and National Resources
- USDA Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs
- USDA Farm to School Planning Kit
- First Nations Native Farm to School Resource Guide