Food Program Procurement: Need to Knows
Calling all schools who contract their meal service to a third party. This message is for you!
It’s the time of year to start thinking about and executing the procurement process for next school year. Whether this is your first bid process or just a renewal year for you, there are some important aspects to take into consideration. First, proper procurement takes time. From drafting your Request for Proposals (RFP) or Invitation for Bid (IFB), to advertising, reviewing and evaluating all proposals, you can expect the process to take 30-90 days from start to finish.
Bottom line: don't wait until late Spring and be scrambling to find a vendor for the start of the school year!
Questions to ask before starting the process:
There are many regulations that govern school meal procurement. While there are standard federal requirements, each state may have its own set of requirements as well, so make sure you are following both sets of regulations.
Does your state have a required solicitation template?
A required vendor contract?
Does your state require pre-approval and review of all bid documents?
Does the size (dollar value) of your contract require a formal bid, or is in-formal the route to go?
Do you know the difference of "Vended Meals" and "Food Service Management" contracts?
These are questions you should have the answer to prior to beginning your procurement. All states are now holding official "procurement reviews", and if you missed or skipped a step during your procurement, it will result in a finding.
We support schools with full RFP/IFB management, and help you answer these questions. Compliance is extremely important in finding a vendor to work with - and more importantly, finding the RIGHT vendor is crucial to the success of your meal program.
As part of our services, we will help you draft a bid document that is compliant, has solid criteria, addresses all program needs, and results in a great vendor partnership for your kids! Don't let procurement trip you up in your audit, contact us for more information.