Leveraging Contracts for Local Food Procurement - A guide for institutions that work with food service management companies (DRAFT)

Food service management companies dictate the parameters of institutional food procurement for many hospitals, schools districts and colleges in New England and around the country.

As the farm to institution movement matures, advocates have realized that they must better understand these companies to have a significant impact on institutional procurement of regionally produced and processed foods. The Farm to Institution New England (FINE) Contracted Food Service Action Project (CFSAP) aims to increase the understanding of how food service management companies (FSMCs) work by compiling regional and cross-sector information about the operational practices of the largest FSMCs in the region: Compass Group and Sodexo. For this project, researchers conducted over 40 interviews with food systems advocates and FSMC staff.

This report is an outgrowth of that research. It aims to assist institutions that are managed by FSMCs to influence the request for proposal (RFP) and contract negotiation processes to increase purchases of local foods. The document begins by describing the different types of contracts typically used with FSMCs and the ways in which local food procurement is incorporated. Then it describes the role of the RFP and provides questions to consider when soliciting proposals, in order to vet companies that best meet the institution’s needs. Next, this document calls out key components of typical contracts that need to be negotiated to improve the ability of institutions to purchase local food items. Lastly, this document provides a brief resource section providing sample RFP and contract language and New England companies that specialize in food service contract negotiation.

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