North Carolina Farm to School

USDA Grades/Grading

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets quality standards for fruits and vegetables.  These standards are measurable and consider size, cosmetic and internal damage and overall quality of the product. The number of grades varies by crop. Buyers can determine what standards the product they are looking to purchase must meet. 

USDA Grades and Standards

Find the USDA grades and standards for produce, including visual and written descriptions.  This information allows schools and farmers to speak the “same language” when discussing quality needs of produce.

NCDA&CS Cooperative Grading Service – The Cooperative Grading Service offers voluntary inspection of fresh fruits and vegetables. These inspections verify if the produce meets USDA grades or other contract specifications.

Institute of Child Nutrition – Produce Safety Resources

The resources on this page are intended to advance your understanding of food safety for produce in child nutrition operations.  School Nutrition professionals with interest in this topic are encouraged to sign up through their State Agencies to attend Produce Safety University, a week-long immersion course offered by USDA.

Commodity Fact Sheets on Purchasing and Produce Lab – Videos on Quality and Condition