Benefits of Membership
Controlling ever increasing food costs is a huge challenge in the field of school nutrition. Being a part of a larger group allows independent districts to benefit from the purchasing power the group provides. The average school district in our group has about 3,500 students, while the group as a whole has over 250,000. This size creates incentives for manufacturers and distributors to provide outstanding pricing that an independent district would not be able to secure on their own. Members enjoy competitive pricing on all of our bids, including grocery, paper, milk, beverages and bread.
Nutritional and CN information
Each bid item is linked to all pertinent information about the item, including case size, ingredients, nutritional information and allergens. Additionally each item is linked to the item's CN data or product Formulation Statements, and Buy American documentation if appropriate. These documents provide the necessary backup when planning your menus, or preparing for an Administrative Review. Additionally we provide files that contain all nutritional information in an Excel Spreadsheet or csv file, which can be imported into our partner program, Mosiac or other software.
USDA procurement reviews have complicated the task of purchasing in school nutrition programs. All of our bids are designed to be in compliance with these policies and procedures, based on the information provided by the state at the time. During a review, all of the information regarding the bid process, the actual bids documents, and all supporting documentation can be found right on the buying group website no additional work needed. Additionally, we use the service of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, MAPC.org as our bidding agent, ensuring compliance with all state and federal laws, including 30B.
Free Professional Standards Tracking Tool
Food for Schools Professional Standards is a complete solution for tracking your employee training to ensure compliance with USDA requirements. This is provided at no charge to member districts. The system allows you to quickly and accurately record all of your training events and employee records in one application. You can easily upload training agendas, sign in sheets, training materials and even online content for retrieval at any point.! At a glance you can see which employees need additional training hours, see who attended each event, and even track required Civil Rights training! The Annual Training Summary provides all the information you need to verify your training efforts for an Administrative Review.
The virtual showcase is a subscription based service that allows manufacturers and brokers to list items of interest to group members, including nutritional information, images, pricing and availability. Members can view the items and request samples, ask questions, as well as rate and project usage right through the application. Directors can use the showcase to suggest new items for potential inclusion in upcoming bids.
Food for School occasionally holds a vendor show. Typically there are 30 or more vendors in attendance, displaying hundreds of new items for you to evaluate. Districts have the opportunity to provide real time feedback via online surveys at each booth, and the moat popular items are considered for addition to our bids. Even if items are not added to the bids, you have the opportunity to connect with vendors and even set up a taste testing at your schools. These events are a great networking event for directors, staff and vendors as over a hundred directors from all across our region are in attendance!
Website and District Dashboard
As a member you will have access to a group website that contains a wealth of information, such as updated bid information, vendor contacts, historical bid documentation, training resources, and much more. The District Dashboard is your own personal space where . You are able to choose what bids or RFPs your district would like to participate in, keep track of how many schools with the amount of student, contact information for all schools, provide information on delivery days. You can even upload new item suggestions for the upcoming bids which are shared with all members!
There is only one Food Service Director in each district, and as a result, we need to reach outside of our own district to network and share. Being a member of this group gives you that opportunity, whether it be sharing new menu ideas, regulatory compliance issues, or any other topic that we all have in common. Members take trips to each other’s schools to see how their kitchens are functioning, and we even do field trips to vendor's warehouses or the Boston Terminal Produce Market. Collaboration is the key to success.