The Sacramento City Unified School District in California recently ran into controversy after it was revealed that it had been purchasing tens of thousands of dollars in canned fruits from China, reports the Sacramento Bee.
The purchases drew criticism from the USDA, a local Congressman and the California Canning Peach Association. The Buy American provision of the National School Lunch Act requires school districts to buy domestically grown and processed foods unless they are not available domestically or cost significantly more than foreign alternatives.
In this case, according to the Bee report, the district agreed to pay $110,058 for 3,900 cases of diced peaches in extra light syrup for the school year that would have cost $152,763 for the same volume from local sources. Similarly, 500 cases of Chinese sliced Bartlett pears cost $13,000 compared to a $19,300 bid for the California product and 2,700 cases of applesauce cost $52,191 from China instead of $62,856 from Washington State.
A district spokesperson characterized the purchase as a “mistake” to the Bee and noted future deliveries of canned foods from China have been halted, though the remainder of the Chinese fruit stored in its warehouse will be served to students.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]