As we head into the competitive solicitation process, some of you may be nervous about the process and have concerns about who could be your potential distributor, product changes, and even cost of the product itself. I completely understand that moving to a new process can be uncomfortable. Please know that we at the service cooperative will work hand in hand with you throughout the process. Other things to keep in mind:
Compliance. Know that the cooperative is facilitating a process to ensure all federal and state regulations are being followed. The cooperative does competitive solicitations and contract management on a daily basis, all while running a compliant food solicitation for the past 20 plus years for its members. The cooperative team is constantly following the changes, memos, and updates regarding the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. Did you know that certain federal language and signed documents are required during a competitive food solicitation process? The cooperative does, and it puts extensive research into knowing those specific details to ensure the protection of its participating school districts.
Knowing who is all involved. For the food solicitation process, the cooperative is merely the facilitator for participating school districts. Across the tri-state area, the cooperative is currently trending to serve over 175 school districts. Up 26% from the last time we conducted this process in 2013, showing the value of the cooperative in regards to savings, knowledge of the competitive process and management and support of its participants. For a map of all those involved, click here. When looking at the map, those schools shown in gold have designated their interest in being part of the focus groups who will help steer the terms and conditions and the product specification lists based on the volume of products being purchased amongst participating schools. The larger the volume, the better the price!
Save on soft costs. What do I mean when I say soft costs? I define soft costs as the time, energy and resources spent on not only conducting the solicitation process but also managing the resulting contract. The cooperative, with your involvement, takes on that process. So far in this solicitation process, the cooperative has completed the following:
- Hosted webinars – approximately 6 hours
- Hosted conference calls – approximately 10 hours
- Hosted meetings with 26 manufacturers and brokers – approximately 40 hours
- Hosted and communicated with distributors – approximately 15 hours
- Tracked and communicated with committed participants – approximately 60 hours
- Promoted the food service program – approximately 10 hours
- Running total = 141 hours
As a service cooperative, our mission is to support the work of our members, and we’ve been doing that for 20+ years with our food service program. If you have any hesitations, please feel free to call me at 888-739-3289.