LaMalfa and Garamendi Respond to Audit of Buy American Provision Compliance in California Schools

Jul 28, 2017
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), co-authors of H.R.1241, the American Food for American Schools Act, responded today to the findings of an audit investigating how well California schools are complying with “Buy American” provisions for school food. The audit found that the state does little to ensure that schools follow the federal rules designed to ensure that schools purchase domestic food for lunches and other school food programs.

LaMalfa said: “American schools should have American food whenever possible. The current Buy American provisions do not actually enforce this policy on schools – a fact that is only further highlighted by the results of this audit. In a state like California, which produces such a large portion of American agriculture, there is little to justify schools choosing to source lower quality foreign alternatives. The legislation that Mr. Garamendi and I have co-authored will help ensure children are provided with more nutritious food that is produced right here at home in the U.S.”

Garamendi said: “The results of this audit highlight the glaring need for stronger legislation to enforce the Buy American provisions of the school lunch program. Right now, the Buy American provisions for school food programs are ill-defined guidelines that don’t have the force of law. As a consequence, they are rarely followed and violations are not enforced. Congressman LaMalfa and I have authored the American Food for American Schools Act to address these deficiencies, and we urge Congress to take up this legislation.”

“American schools should be supporting local agriculture by providing children with safe, healthy American-grown food, rather than circumventing rules to buy lower-quality food from places like China.”

A recent audit requested by state lawmakers showed that six school districts had purchased foreign food but failed to adequately justify it. The audit found that the California Department of Education failed to monitor compliance of the Buy American provision until the 2016-2017 school year. All six of the school districts reviewed – Elk Grove, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Stockton – bought food from foreign sources without adequately maintaining documents to justify the purchase. Under the Buy American provision, schools are allowed to buy foreign food only if there is no domestic producer or if the U.S. products are significantly more expensive.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.