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Contracting with food service management companies

Local Educational Authority (LEA) considering contracting for management of food service operations with a food service management company (FSMC) must contact Nutrition Services at 800-731-2233 before initiating the contract process to obtain information on Federal and State Regulations. Nutrition Services will then send the LEA the USDA publication Contracting with Food Service Management Companies - Guidance for School Food Authorities. This publication outlines the specific USDA provisions that must be included in FSMC contracts. Nutrition Services is responsible for ensuring all required USDA provisions have been included.

When deciding whether contracting with a food service management company will provide the best possible food service operation, the LEA should consider all financial, administrative and operational issues. The LEA should allow sufficient time to properly analyze and address all issues. USDA guidance suggests the process should ideally begin one year prior to the start of a contract with a food service management company.

Key Point

The LEA cannot delegate responsibility of the non-profit school food service account and the overall responsibility for the non-profit food service operation.  

Procedures - competitive bidding/competitive proposal for a food service management company

  1. LEA must notify Nutrition Services of the intent to contract with a FSMC. Nutrition Services will provide the LEA a list of FSMCs currently operating in Nebraska and a list of LEAs that are currently and have contracted with FSMCs in the past.

  2. The LEA must decide which method will be used to contract for food service:

    • Invitation for Bid (IFB) or

    • Request for Proposal (RFP).

    The initial term of the contract must be for no more than one year. However, conditions to extend the contract for four additional one-year periods may be included in the proposal.

  3. The LEA will complete its IFB or RFP. This document and the completed Contract Cover sheet and Checklist (Appendix B pages 1- 9 in USDA's guidance manual) will be sent to Nutrition Services. Nutrition Services must ensure all required provisions have been included in the IFB or RFP prior to the LEA advertising in a statewide newspaper and sending the IFB or RFP to all FSMCs operating in the state. The solicitation period must be at least 45 days for IFBs and 60 days for RFPs.

  4. The LEA may choose to conduct a pre-bid/preproposal conference for all interested bidders. The information regarding this meeting should be outlined in the IFB or RFP.   USDA guidance suggests such a meeting be held approximately two weeks after the IFB/RFP is issued and prior to the date bids/offers are due. The LEA must respond to all questions asked by prospective bidders at the pre-bid/preproposal conference in writing, with copies provided to all attending bidders and to Nutrition Services.

  5. The LEA shall establish a committee to evaluate the RFP/IFB. Proposals must be evaluated using the weighted criteria stated in the RFP. Contract negotiations then may precede with offerors whose proposals receive evaluation scores that exceed numerical values as established in advance by the evaluation panel.

  6. The LEA must send the proposed contract with all attached amendments and the completed Contract Cover sheet and Checklist (Appendix B pages 1-9) from USDA's guidance manual to Nutrition Services. Nutrition Services must ensure all required provisions have been included in the contract before it can be signed.

  7. After Nutrition Services' approval of either the sealed bid or negotiated contracts, a copy of the signed contract must be submitted to Nutrition Services.

  8. Nutrition Services will conduct an on-site review sometime during the first year of the contract to ensure the LEA is meeting its responsibilities in the management of the program and the FSMC is adhering to the terms and conditions of the contract.

Procedures for renewal of FSMC contract after the initial one year term

  1. The LEA must furnish Nutrition Services a completed Contract Coversheet (Appendix B page 1) and copies of any amendments or other relevant documentation pertaining to the contract.

  2. The renewal package must be approved by Nutrition Services before the LEA's Annual Program Application can be approved.

Key Point

Approval from Nutrition Services is required for all FSMC contracts or renewal of contracts before implementation in the LEA.