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Transformational Procurement

Spring is on its way. The sun is high and the temperatures are warming up. Spring brings new life, new beginnings, and a time to reset. It is the perfect setting to talk about transformational procurement. No, it is not another “toolkit” to adorn your shelf with hopes that you can miraculously breathe in the information. We have plenty of toolkits and we have done plenty of “talking” about procurement over the decades of my career – but what has changed? Very little has changed. We are still gathering in groups to “talk” about procurement! Through all this talking resulting in a toolkit, more talking resulting in another toolkit, we still see vendors frustrated with antiquated and incomplete bid documents, paying high costs for a constant demand for samples that don’t result in sales, and districts not buying what was on the bid. On the other hand, we see school nutrition directors frustrated with product shortages, substitutions, and incomplete or inaccurate product formulation sheets. It is time to stop talking and take action!

The solution is…. Transformational procurement in school nutrition. But guess what – chain restaurants have been doing it for years. So, the Urban School Food Alliance has decided to jump into a new way of doing business. We don’t have a toolkit – we only have our knowledge of the program and what we want and the courage to make a bold move. We took the highest volume protein item (chicken) throughout the 18 member districts, hired a firm to help us develop OUR recipe, meeting all the standards and specifications of OUR choosing (including eliminating the items in the Ingredients of Concern Guide and making sure it is NAE), and preparing a small sampling for kid testing in 3 of our districts. Next step is to Commit at least 500,000 pounds to that recipe. The key is Commitment. No turning back, once it is committed it is committed. We will work with a COOP to send out an RFP for producing two breaded products and like magic – we have OUR chicken products that are not substitutable. Just like chain restaurants.

Transformational Procurement, add it to your lexicon. We are no longer subject to the marketplace, we will drive the marketplace. We are the biggest restaurant in the country. Don’t worry – just jump and be transformational on the way down to the net. See you next month!


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