Cooperative Provides Free and Open Competition to All Distributors
Mid-day Thursday, August 1, 2017, nine (9) major players in the K-12 food service industry entered the doors of Lakes Country Service Cooperative to learn more about the food service program, its members, and the upcoming solicitation process it will be conducting with its committed school food authorities (SFAs).
Collaboratively, in a conference room, the following companies listened attentively to cooperative personnel explain the competitive food procurement process: Distributors CashWa Distributing, Food Services of America, Martin Brothers, Reinhart – Marshall & Twin Cities, Sysco North Dakota, Sysco Western Minnesota, Upper Lakes Foods, and US Foods. Indianhead and Reinhart – La Crosse were not in attendance, but the cooperative will continue outreach to those distributors.
A background and history of the past programs was also given to the distributors as many were new to the cooperative model when it comes to food procurement. The group talked about USDA and State Agency mandates, how the cooperative will utilize focus groups in the solicitation process, how the cooperative will facilitate the RFP process and manage the resulting contract(s). The cooperative was also able to answer questions received from the distributors. Holding the distributor meetings in person shows the importance of competition, the value of the SFAs participating in the program, and brings all of the major distributors to the table in one location hearing the exact same message.
As a follow up to the meeting, all distributors were invited to create a free account on Public Purchase. Public Purchase is a platform in which the solicitation will be released and conducted. This platform will be the only way for the distributor to obtain the RFP documents.
As always, it’s important that you continue to message and tell your distributors to respond to the RFP. The distributors have heard the benefits from of the program coming from the cooperative but the value is reinforced when they hear it from the schools directly. The more responding distributors, the better the pricing!