School Nutrition Procurement
On this page...
Procurement is a multi-step, systematic, and complex process for obtaining quality goods, products, and/or services at the best possible price. Proper planning before beginning to prepare the procurement document for solicitation is critical and necessary for the School Food Authority to obtain high quality products and services needed at the lowest possible cost.
The steps in procurement for School Nutrition Programs (SNP) are:
- Plan and determine cycle menus that meet meal pattern requirements for all grade groups
- Determine the products necessary to produce menus
- Forecast or estimate the necessary quantities of each product
- Develop product descriptions or specifications and quality standards
- Determine product movement process that will help establish delivery schedules and inventory management and ultimately costs
- Estimate the total cost of the product procurement. This would mean contacting potential vendor for information on product availability, price, delivery costs, and other related costs such as records and order placement
- Select the proper procurement method and create solicitation documents
- Contact potential vendors to obtain competitive offers
- Evaluate vendor responses
- Award the contract to the most responsive and responsible vendor, and
- Manage the contract.
All procurement transactions must be conducted in a manner that follows the principles of good procurement. These are:
- Provide for free and open competition. Free and open competition means that all vendors have level playing field and the same opportunity to compete.
- Conduct procurement in an environment that provides for fairness and maintain integrity throughout the process. This means employee or agent of the School Food Authority (SFA) or Local Education Agency (LEA) responsible for development, selection, award, and administration of contracts should avoid any conflicts of interests, real or apparent. The employee or agent of the SFA or LEA shall neither solicit nor accept gratuities, favors, or anything of monetary value from vendors or proposed vendors.
- Award contracts to vendors who are eligible, responsive, able, and willing to meet the product specifications, and the terms and conditions provided in the solicitation document.
- Maintain transparency throughout the process. This means records are maintained to establish accountability and cost effectiveness for the federally funded SNP.
Procurement Methods and Documentation
Procurement Decision Tree - Is a flow chart to show components of a procurement plan. The procurement method to use is determined once the value of the procurement event is estimated. Below is a description of procurement methods, including steps to follow when using a method, and documentation to retain for each method.
All procurement transactions must be conducted in a manner that maximizes free and open competition. This means “all suppliers are on a level playing field” and have the same opportunity to compete. Procurement procedures must not unjustifiably restrict or eliminate competition.
Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs - USDA 08/2015 - This USDA guide covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. This guide incorporates information about micro-purchases, buying local foods for child care and summer meal programs, and real world examples. The guide also includes sample solicitation language, detailed geographic preference examples, and helpful resources.
Institute of Child Nutrition (2015). Procurement in the 21st century resource manual. University, MS: Author provides general concepts about procuring goods, products and/or services. The purpose of this resource is to assist school nutrition directors in identifying key considerations during the decision making process based on the complexity of implementing a cost-effective procurement system in School Nutrition Program.
National Food Service Management Institute. Equipment Purchasing and Facility Design for School Nutrition Programs. University, MS: Author. The intent of this useful resource is to give school nutrition directors a competitive advantage as they approach their equipment purchases and facility design project.
The resource is divided into two major sections.
- Section one, "Introduction to Equipment and Design for School Nutrition Programs." This section has eight chapters with Chapter Seven -Getting Ready to Bid and Chapter Eight Finishing the Equipment Purchasing Process dedicated to procurement of equipment from solicitation to start-up and training for preventive maintenance of equipment. It includes sample request for quotations/Invitation for Bid.
- Section two, "Making Specific Equipment Choices", is an eight chapter unit that focuses on specific types of foodservice equipment purchased by school nutrition programs.
The following templates and prototypes can be found in Download Forms on IowaCNP. All procurement templates start with the prefix: NSLPPROC followed by a number and title of the form.
- Procurement Decision Tree
- Application Packet - Written Procurement Plan and Code of Conduct template
- Written Procurement Plan and the Code of Conduct Handout
- Micro-Purchase log
- Small Purchase (3 Bids and a Buy) procurement template
- Request for Proposal (RFP) for Prime Vendor (Food) template
- Attachment B - Official Pricing Spreadsheet - supplement to Request for Proposal template
- Invitation for Bid (IFB) template
- Public notification for RFP and IFB
- No Bid Vendor Statement
- Rebates, Discounts, and Credits Tracking Form
- Milk - Extended Cost Estimate Spreadsheet
- Buy American Exception Log template.