Contracting with a Caterer

All Sponsors of the Child Nutrition Programs have the option of contracting with a Caterer to obtain meals. Typically, a Caterer will provide offsite food preparation and the delivery of meals to the Sponsor. Caterers are most commonly utilized by Sponsors who do not have the facilities necessary to produce their own meals for the Child Nutrition Programs.

Procurement Requirements

Procurement is the process of acquiring goods or services. The purpose of effective procurement procedures is to ensure that such goods and services are obtained efficiently, economically, and in compliance with State and Federal law.

The first step in contracting with a caterer will be to estimate the amount of your contract and determine what type of procurement procedures you must use. If the value of your catering contract is less than the Program Cost Threshold, you may use the informal procedures. If the value of the contract is over the Program Cost Threshold, you must use the formal procedures.

Program Cost Threshold Maximum
Type of Sponsor Informal Cost Threshold Maximum
USDA Program Cost Threshold $250,000
Exempt Charter Schools, Non Profits, RCCI, CACFP Sponsors $250,000
Non-Exempt Charter Schools $100,000
Arizona School Districts $100,000

Informal Procurement

Informal procurement procedures can be used when the amount of the catering contract is less than the Program Cost Threshold. The procedures are as follows:

  1. Develop written specifications;
  2. Obtain price or rate quotes from at least three (3) qualified sources;
  3. Maintain written records of quotes obtained and evidence of free and open competition;
  4. Evaluate quotes and maintain documentation of the selection procedure; and
  5. Award contract to the most responsive and responsible vendor.

Informal Catering Contract Agreement Approval:

Informal contracts must be no longer than one (1) year and the contract dates must be between July 1 and June 30 for NSLP and October 1 and September 30 for CACFP. ADE must review each agreement between a Sponsor and a caterer annually to ensure compliance with all the provisions and standards. The Sponsor must receive approval of the agreement before food service operations can start. Each Sponsor and vendor must keep a copy of the signed contract agreement.

Contract Agreement Instructions:

  1. Complete and sign the Informal Catering Contract Checklist;
  2. Complete the Standard Agreement to Provide Food Service Template;
  3. Complete and sign the Certificate of Independent Price Determination (both Sponsor and vendor);
  4. Complete and sign the Lobbying Forms if applicable (vendor signs if $100,000 or more); and
  5. Turn in all documents to ADE for approval.

Informal Procedure Templates:

Formal Procurement

Formal procurement procedures must be used when the amount of the catering contract is over the Program Cost Threshold. The procedures for conducting Formal Procurement for a catering contract are as follows:

  1. Complete mandatory RFP training;
  2. Complete template solicitation documents;
  3. Turn in documents for ADE approval;
  4. Send the RFP to the vendors on the ADE Caterer Contact List;
  5. Compile an Evaluation Committee and evaluate proposals using rubric;
  6. Turn in documents for ADE approval; and
  7. Award contract

Per the CFR, contracts must be no longer than one year in duration. Once the RFP process is completed, annual contract renewal amendments are allowable as long as they do not exceed four (4) additional one year extensions from the original contract period. While contract renewal amendments are permitted, the Sponsor is not required to renew the contract and should only do so after it is determined that the renewal will benefit the Sponsor. ADE must review and approve all contract renewal amendments prior to obtaining signatures from both parties. Changes to the contract cannot result in a material change. Contract renewal amendment documents will be sent out to those Sponsors who have formal contracts before the contract end dates.

For more information or to schedule a Request For Proposal (RFP) training please contact:

Veronica Cramer
Contracts Management Officer
Health and Nutrition Services
(602) 364-1965
[email protected]