• Is Your School Meeting Buy American Guidelines?

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 8/16/2017

    Did you know that all School Food Authorities (SFAs) who participate in the National School Lunch (NLSP) or School Breakfast Programs (SBP) are required to purchase, to the maximum extent practicable, domestic commodities or products according to 7 CFR Part 210.21(d) ?

    The USDA defines a domestic commodity as either being produced in the United States (i.e. chicken tenders from chickens raised in the U.S.) or a product that uses a substantial (over 51%) amount of product produced in the U.S. (i.e. 10# canned whole kernel corn produced and processed in the U.S.). 

    Buy American Do we have to stop serving bananas, mandarin oranges and using spices in our food service program?  Definitely not!  The USDA permits some exceptions, especially when the product cannot be produced in sufficient quantities and or be reasonably available.  However, schools should limit the amount of non-domestic products they serve in their food service programs.

    It’s January in the Midwest – should I be serving strawberries?  Probably not!  SFA’s try to align their menus when product, especially produce can be produced within the U.S.  Meaning, serving strawberries would best align in the spring through fall months in the Midwest which allows distributors to access crops based in southern California versus Mexico in the winter months.

    How do I make sure that I’m compliant with Buy American?  First off, the Buy American provision should always be included in the solicitation documents as well as contracts and product specification lists.  However, it is the SFA’s (district/school’s) responsibility to check the products they are ordering and receiving to ensure the country of origin does in fact reflect a U.S. produced or processed product. 

    As part of the solicitation process, the cooperative will work with the focus groups to ensure the Buy American guidelines are being met with the RFP documents and resulting contract.

    For more information on the Buy American Act, see USDA memo SP 38-2017.

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  • Meeting the Backside of your Food Service Program

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 7/21/2017

    Do you know the difference?

    Many people don’t know the difference between a manufacturer, a broker and a distributor when it comes to K-12 foodservice.  Sitting down with 20 different manufacturers and brokers these past few weeks reinforced the valuable resources that these companies and representatives hold when it comes to K-12 foodservice.  As I began to explain the food solicitation process to an interested school district, I thought to myself, do I need to start at the beginning and explain all of the parties involed with a food service program?  The answer was YES!

    manufacturer is a company that transforms livestock and agricultural products into products for final consumption.  In other words, they are the group that takes the cow and turns it into a beef patty served in your lunch lines.  They’re the starting point for many of the products you serve to your students on a daily basis.  Depending on their size, some manufacturers have K-12 representatives that you may have spoken The Food System with at an SNA food show or even had a visit from at your district.  Typically the manufacturers who have the direct representative are very large and do a lot of business across the United States.  Those who are not that large, or choose to sell through a non-direct representative, work through brokers.

    K-12 food brokers are sales agents that negotiate sales for manufacturers of food products.  Brokers provide a service to both the manufacturers and distributors who are buying the product to deliver to your district.  Brokers can represent multiple manufacturers at the same time, covering most aspects of K-12 food service.  Some of you have met brokers at SNA conferences, mini food shows or have had a visit directly from one, or many, of them.  However, when it comes to actually purchasing a product most school districts purchase from a distributor.

    distributor is a company that provides food and non-food products to K-12 foodservice.  They also distribute product to larger markets such as restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes.  Distributors in the current market include, but are not limited to: Cash-Way Distributing, Food Services of America, Indianhead Food Distributors, Martin Brothers, Reinhart Foodservice, Sysco, Upper Lakes Foods and US Foods.

    So there you have it, that’s the basics of how most of you receive the core staple groceries you serve on a daily basis.  As we move into the solicitation process, it’s extremely important for us to make sure that all parties involved in K-12 foodservice are aware of the competitive opportunity that will be available to them.  

    Here are some of the manufacturers and brokers that we’ve spoken with so far in this journey:  Bernard Food Industries, Bix Produce, Acosta, Bakes Sales Company, GVM Marketing, Heinz, JTM Food Group, KeyImpact, Lakeland, The Core Group, Apple and Eve, Cavendish Farms, Cloverdale Meats, ConAgra, Domino's Smart Slice, Foster Farms, General Mills, Notables, Red Gold, Schwan's Food Company, Advance Pierre, and MixMi.

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  • CPC Begins Outreach to Food Brokers and Manufacturers

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 7/6/2017

    Come mid-July, CPC will begin its outreach to food brokers and manufacturers.  Meetings will consist of learning more about one another, including product lines, how they work with current distributors, new products entering the K-12 market and how the cooperative assists its participating school districts in conducting the food and distribution solicitation. 

    With over a dozen meetings scheduled with brokers and manufacturers, CPC will have a busy summer combining all of the information and preparing summaries for the focus groups that will steer and drive the terms and conditions and product specification lists set forth in the upcoming RFP. 

    CPC plans to host a single meeting time for all distributors who are able to service Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to learn more about the solicitation process and for CPC and its participating schools to learn more about how food distribution works, the pros and the cons when it comes to K-12 foodservice.

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  • 2017 Farm to School Awardees Announced

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 6/20/2017

    North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Named USDA Grant Awardee

    Congratulations to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture on their receipt of a $75,000 grant awarded from USDA.  The Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Agriculture will partner to promote local foods through North Dakota Farm to School Month and Pride of Dakota School Lunch Day with special menus and aprons for schools and child care facilities.  They will contract with a farmer and marketing partner to provide technical assistance and sub-grants to schools and child care facilities conducting farm to school and farm to preschool activities.

    The Farm to School Grant was designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools. These grants can help farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts.  Grant funds support a wide variety of activities from training, planning and developing partnerships to creating new menu items, establishing supply chains, offering taste tests to children, purchasing equipment, planting school gardens, and organizing field trips to agricultural operations.  For more information, visit: https://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2017/005617


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  • Chat With Us At NDSNA 2017

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 6/1/2017

    NDSNA Conference

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  • Ready to Get on Board?

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 5/19/2017

    With last weeks webinars, the Cooperative Purchasing Connection and the North Dakota Educators Service Cooperative is asking School Food Authorities (SFAs) to band together and join the food All Aboard solicitation process by signing a Letter of Commitment to participate in the food service and distribution programs for school food nutrition.  Other programs and soliciations will include ware wash (e.g. chemicals, soaps, sanitizers) and small wares (e.g. pots, pans, utensils).  Schools may choose to utilize any or  all of these programs.  

    The Letter of Commitment (LOC) must be emailed to us no later than September 29, 2017.  This deadline is in place to ensure enough time for aggregating data and ensuring all needs of the participating SFAs are considered.  The earlier we receive commitments and data from you the quicker we can begin our process in developing the RFP documents.  Please submit your agreement via email to: ltruax@ndesc.org.

    Letter of Commitment - NDESC

    SFAs or schools boards seeking further information may contact Lisa Truax or Melissa Mattson at 866-337-2005 or ltruax@ndesc.org for more information.

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  • NDESC and CPC Hosts Food Service Webinar

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 5/8/2017

    A Solution to the Procurement Puzzle:  Cooperative Purchasing for K-12 Food Service Webinar Image

    NDESC and the Cooperative Purchasing Connection hosted its first round of food service procurement webinars as we hoped to have answered many of your questions pertaining to food service and procurement regulations.  Remember, NDESC and CPC is able to conduct the competitive solicitation process on your behalf, as we are a cooperative of School Food Authorities (SFAs).  All you need to do is join the process.

    As a recap, we've included access to both the webinar recording as well as the presentation slides.  

    Presentation Slides (PDF format): A Solution to the Procurement Puzzle

    Webinar Recording: NDESC: A Solution to the Procurement Puzzle

    Visit our Q & A page to review questions asked during the webinar and solicitation process!

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  • NDESC to Host Food Procurement Webinar

    Posted by Lisa Truax at 4/28/2017

    Food Service Procurement - Regulations Require Action

    Act Now

    Overwhelmed at the conducting the competitive solicitation process on your own for food?  Join us for a one hour webinar to learn how and why we bid on your behalf.

    This important webinar will outline:

    • Reasons why food service must be bid competitively
    • Competitive bidding process done on your behalf
    • Letter of Commitment
    • Focus Group participation

    It is highly recommended that both business managers and food service directors attend the webinar.

    Webinar Options
    May 8th @ 9am CT: Register at http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=ED50DA89814839
    May 9th @ 2pm CT: Register at http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=ED50DA8981483C

    Unable to attend the webinar, follow this blog for Q&A and a posting of the recorded webinar.

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