Procurement Practices

The purchasing of all products used in the School Nutrition Program is regulated by federal guidelines. The products are competitively bid to help ensure that the products used are of the best quality and price available to us and that we receive quality service from our vendors.

Guilford County Schools is a member of the North Carolina Child Nutrition Procurement Alliance, which provides a joint bid document for all members. This helps ensure that we get the best prices possible based on volume discounts. Currently approximately 80% of the state’s school districts participate.

Food manufacturers must meet federal grading standards and practices. Products meet federal standards and are safe and wholesome.

Distributors must have a safety/security plan in place to prevent food from being contaminated or tampered with.

Product specifications include factors such as quality grade, size, growing location, ingredients, allergens and nutritional factors for fat, sodium, etc.

Buy American

Foods purchased for the School Nutrition Programs must be of U.S. domestic origin unless the product cannot be sourced in the U.S. or if the price is too high for domestic purchase. The imported foods that we are currently purchasing when domestic isn’t available are canned fruit (peaches, pears, pineapple, mandarin oranges, mixed fruit), canned and frozen vegetables (carrots and broccoli) . The U.S. has been experiencing a shortage of canned fruit for a few years and it is expected to worsen in the next year.  

Certain fresh produce items are imported when they are out of season in the U.S. such as grapes, peppers, cantaloupes, watermelon, cucumbers, onions, blueberries and bananas.

Green Efforts

Guilford County Schools is committed to the environment. That includes School Nutrition Services.

SaniTech uses portion-controlled packaging and concentrated chemicals. That reduces shipping costs and saves fuel by not having to ship water in bulk containers of premixed chemicals. The packaging also reduces the amount of waste going into the landfill.

Cardboard, tin cans and plastic bottles from the kitchen are recycled.

"Why does School Nutrition use styrofoam trays?" is a question we are often asked. There are several reasons for using styrofoam trays right now, while we continue to search for affordable dinnerware.

  • Chemicals for washing dishes can cause harm to the water, especially in schools with septic systems. Older water treatment systems may not be able to handle the large influx of hot water and chemicals.
  • In addition, Guilford County frequently experiences drought conditions; using dishwashing machines would greatly increase how much water our schools use.
  • Almost all kitchens are very limited in space. The space that some schools previously had for dishwashing machines is now used for freezer or dry storage – or even as a manager’s office or recordkeeping storage space.
  • Disposables are sanitary. After a single use they are disposed of, so there is little concern for use of potentially contaminated dinnerware.
  • And finally, cost is a major reason for using styrofoam instead of paper fiber or food-based fiber disposable trays. We request bid prices for biodegradable paper trays each year, but so far, the cost has been too high for us to use the products.