Fifty agricultural trade associations, farmer co-ops and agribusinesses of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives have urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to strengthen enforcement of the “Buy American” provision for participants in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.
The call came after a recent investigative report in the Sacramento Bee found that the Sacramento City Unified School District had spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on imported Chinese canned fruit.
“Our organizations are deeply concerned that the Buy America Act requirements of the National School Lunch Act are not being adequately monitored and enforced,” the groups wrote to the Secretary. “Our concerns were amplified with the Sacramento City Unified School District’s recent acknowledgement that they have been purchasing canned peaches, pears and applesauce from China. Since there is currently no transparency regarding school purchases of imported products, we must assume there are other districts throughout the country purchasing imported food products.”
The NCFC thinks Secretary Vilsack and the Department should focus on ways in which the Buy American provision can be better enforced. Suggestions included more closely monitoring procurement specifications and contractor performance.