Understanding the Basics of Procurement

Planning and knowing the right bid process is key to K-12 foodservice buying.
Restaurant worker showing chef a piece of paper in kitchen

Big words are scary, but procurement doesn’t need to be. Procurement is just a big word that means “buying the stuff you need for school foodservice next year.”

When a school foodservice director knows the types of goods and services needed, quantities, regulations and other factors, the easier it is to bid for the right products and manage costs.

When spending federal entitlement funds, procurement is a must. Dorothy Cole, the Gordon Food Service Strategic Account Manager for Education, points out that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires all purchases made with funds generated by Child Nutrition programs be conducted following federal procurement rules. The only exception is when state or local rules are more stringent, in which case the stricter rules apply.

“Every bid has to follow the regulations that apply either at the federal, state or local level,” Cole says. “And procurement may involve a purchasing manager or someone outside the school nutrition department, so working together is critical.”

Procurement is governed by Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200—known as 2 CFR 200. It governs the spending of all federal funds. In the end, procurement assures schools obtain nutrition for healthy student meals while making sure federal dollars are spent to support American agricultural commodities.

Cole recommends schools make a market basket—determining which percentage of entitlement dollars will be spent on commodities and which will be spent on commercial items. This allows a certain percentage of products to be added later.

Procurement starts with a forecast: What products? How much is needed? When is it needed? And so on. There are three types of purchasing—micro-purchases, small purchases and large purchases—each with different rules. 

Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) can help schools save money and navigate the administration of everything needed for an administrative review, including meeting the Buy American Provision requirements.

Ask your Gordon Food Service Sales Representative to guide you through the bid process, helping you make the most of foodservice dollars.

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