Purchasing and Food Distribution
In 1992 the Mississippi Department of
Education and participating local school districts’ Child Nutrition Programs
initiated a statewide purchasing program. Under this program, bids for food and
supplies are issued by the Department. These bids represent manufacturer’s
pricing as well as that of institutional distributors and supplies.
Local schools may order
products from the approved bid list at a fixed price for the duration of the
contract. The foods are delivered by contract distributors on a weekly basis,
with the actual cost of food and delivery being paid by the district to the
The specific items on
the bid are determined by the Purchasing Management Committee (PMC). This
includes quality of product, packaging, pricing, and pre-approved brands based
on student acceptability. The PMC has a strong focus on the quality issues
involving the items and brands which are approved, which includes testing of
products with students in a school environment. Current committee members are
listed in this document.
The service is
self-funding from fees charged to the local entities. Costs are divided into
start-up (one-time costs) and operation costs. These are then applied to the
number of meals served by the member districts to generate revenue to meet an
annual budget approved by the PMC. The one-time start-up rate will remain
constant for all new members, while operation costs will be adjusted in
subsequent years to reflect balance on hand as well as the inclusion of new
There are currently in
excess of 600 items on the bid. These include food, produce, supplies, milk,
ice cream, and bread used by participating districts. The cost savings on the
initial bid items will more than cover the service fees incurred by the
districts. Factoring in rebates received from some direct-to-manufacturer items
increases those savings considerably.
participation results in cost savings, plus they no longer have to prepare,
award, or manage bids for the approved items. This responsibility is
transferred to the Department of Education as part of the overall operation.