April 2015
In This Issue

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Happy Spring! 
After another long and cold winter for many parts of the country, spring has finally arrived!

The month of April means rain showers and buds on the trees, but it is also the busiest month of bid season.

According to Awarded Bids Analytics, 27% of all bids tracked by Interflex were issued in the month of April for the 2014-2015 school year.  Of those bids issued in the month of April, about 22% were issued by a cooperative buying group and about 78% were issued by an individual school district.

We hope April brings you fair weather and a happy bid season!

What's New at Interflex
Always improving to simplify the bid process for you, here's what new at Interflex: 


Custom Fields on Bids 

This is the first year that operators using BidAdvantage for Schools are able to add custom fields onto their bids, including Fixed Fee, Fee for Service, NOI, Total Cost, Price per Serving, Servings per Case, and up to 4 customizable fields.


If you receive one of these bids and have questions about the new fields, or if you are an operator using BidAdvantage for Schools and would like to utilize the new custom fields, please contact us.


BidAdvantage for Schools Product Database 

There are now over 3,000 products from 68 manufacturers in the BidAdvantage for Schools Product Database, each featuring product codes, nutrition facts, CN equivalencies, allergens, packaging, sample request emails, website links, and more!


If you're an operator who would like access to this Product Database, please contact elessig@interflex.net. If you are a manufacturer and would like to add your products to the Database, please contact custserv@interflex.net


New in AwardedBids.com 

New product types have been added to AwardedBids.com including a "Whole Grain" subcategory under Dry Pasta, Egg Noodles, Pasta Noodles, and Spaghetti Noodles in the Pasta section. The product type "Peanut Free Spread Sandwich" has also been added under Prepared Foods. All AwardedBids.com subscribers will now be able to search these product types.  

Leftover Easter Eggs?    

Did you know: hard-cooked eggs will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Put those beautiful eggs to good use!  Check out recipes from:

USDA What's Cooking? - The USDA Mixing Bowl is an interactive tool featuring USDA recipes to encourage budget-friendly and nutritious meals.
American Egg Board - American Egg Board presents a new set of appetizing and appealing recipes developed by school nutrition professionals specifically for school lunches.

According to the AwardedBids.com database, hard-cooked eggs made up approximately 11% of all eggs in the 2014-2015 school year: 

*AwardedBids.com data represents about 50% of the k12 market. This report included 96% of the 2014-2015 tracked operator bids at the time of the report. 
Procurement Best Practices 
In the past years, the bid process has become more intricate and complex, yet remains a crucial part of school foodservice. Procurement is a hot topic, now more than ever, sparking discussion between industry members in an effort to alleviate the complexities faced by operators, distributors, brokers, and manufacturers alike. Highlighted below are a few common challenges and best practices to simplify the bid process.

Best Practice: 
Vague or poorly written specifications:
Inadequate specifications do not give bidding vendors a clear idea of what the school is asking for and inevitably result in the school receiving bids for products that do not meet their needs. 
Elaborate and update your specifications: 
Be descriptive and detailed when writing your specs. Do not assume the vendor knows what you know. As regulations and menus change, be sure to update your specs accordingly.  
Missing or inaccurate quantities:
Without an accurate estimate of how much product a school requires, the bidding vendors are not only less capable of providing an accurate low-price, but also are unable to plan for production appropriately. This often results in shortages (leaving the school without needed products) or excess for the manufacturer or distributor. 
Estimate your usage accurately:
Try to forecast how much of each product on the bid you will use for the bid period by referencing your upcoming menu plans, past usage from your distributor, or keeping track of inventory throughout the year. Accurate numbers are important but they are not enough by themselves - be sure to give a unit of measure as well, e.g. 100 cases or 100 pounds.  
Too many line items on each bid:
Having hundreds or thousands of line items on a bid makes it extremely difficult for bidding vendors to respond accurately to each item in a timely manner. A multitude of line items is also cumbersome for the school to evaluate and award efficiently. 
Consolidate and get creative:
Consider how each item on the bid might be used in versatile ways on your menu. For example, you might use the same pasta noodles in macaroni & cheese as you do for pasta and tomato sauce. Always check for duplicate or similar items that can be combined. 
Short bid windows:
If vendors are not given an adequate amount of time to respond to a bid they may not be able to participate in the bid or may not be able to give more than blanket pricing, which in turn leaves the school without the competitive bid responses that they sought. 
Give it time:
Schools: a good rule of thumb is to allow 4-5 weeks (or more) between the day you issue the bid and the day the bid opens. The bigger the bid, the more time you should allow.  Brokers & Vendors: be sure to share the bid with any other personnel necessary in a timely manner to ensure they have an adequate amount of time to respond as well. 
Incomplete bid responses:  
Not providing all requested information in response to a school's bid can make it difficult for the school to evaluate and award and can prolong the bid process. Incomplete bid responses may also result in disqualification. Likewise, not adhering to the school's bid format can cause the evaluation process to be more strenuous and time-consuming for the school and may result in misinterpretation of the information.  
Be thorough:  
Be sure to read through all bid documents and instructions provided by the school and return all requested information and documentation in the appropriate format on time. Take care to complete all fields on the bid as well. For example, if a school asks for the brand, product code, packaging, and price, you should take care to complete each field as instructed and not leave any information blank. 
Lack of communication:
Whether it be questions & answers, addendums, or award information, lack of communication between vendors and schools leaves both parties in the dark and without the benefits that the bid process is meant to produce.  
Communicate clearly:
Be sure to share all questions, answers, addendums, bid information, and bid award notifications with everyone involved in the bid process, including participating schools, brokers, distributors, and manufacturers. Providing all relevant information will ensure an accurate and clean bid as well as the ability to plan and improve for next year. 

Please share your thoughts on the procurement process through this anonymous survey. Click here to begin.

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes and will guide us in developing new solutions and resources to better serve you in simplifying the bid process in the future. Thank you!

Looking for more guidance? Check out the resources below to learn more:
  • SNA Procurement Toolkit: offering practical solutions and guidance on many aspects of operating a successful and efficient foodservice operation.
  • Procurement in the 21st Century from NFSMI: designed specifically for school food authorities and covers a variety of topics including principles of good procurement, competitive purchasing, and forecasting.
  Brand News  

The ever-changing school food atmosphere can make it hard to keep up. Manufacturer products are changing every day. Likewise, brands are bought and sold, and brokers, manufacturers, and distributors are merged and spun-off fairly often. Check out some of the latest changes to stay up to date on your foodservice vendors:
  • Juicy Juice is now a brand of Harvest Hill Beverage Company. Nestle USA sold the Juicy Juice brand in July of 2014.
  • Hillshire Brands is now part of Tyson. The merger was completed in August of 2014.
  • General Mills acquired Annie's Homegrown in October of 2014.
  • Enjoy Life Foods was acquired by Mondelez International in February of 2015.
Upcoming Events


The Texas Association for School Nutrition Annual Conference will be held June 21-24, 2015 in Grapevine, Texas. 
Please join us for our learning session! 
A Total Bidding Resource for the Entire Supply Chain
This session will be presented on Monday, June 22 at 3:30pm in Fort Worth Room 3/4. The session will repeat on
Wednesday, June 24 at 9:40am in Fort Worth Room 7.
During this session you'll learn about bid resources, best practices, and tools, including BidAdvantage for Schools.

The American Commodity Distribution Association's Annual Conference will be held May 3-5, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We hope to see you there!

The School Nutrition Association's Annual National Conference will be held July 12-15, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Visit Interflex at Booth #1344. 

Please contact Amy Neal (  aneal@interflex.net / 980-245-8449) if you would like to meet one-on-one at TASN or ACDA. 
bread-basket-sm.jpg Whole-Grain Exemption

If your school is struggling to procure whole-grain rich products that your students find acceptable you may be granted an exemption from the whole-grain rich regulations for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. On February 10th, 2015 the USDA issued a memo containing guidance for State agencies on how to grant an exemption from the whole-grain rich requirement in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program to a school food authority that exhibits hardship in the procurement of whole-grain compliant foods that are acceptable to students.

The USDA memo states that school food authorities may be granted an exemption for one, many, or all types of grain products, but must continue to seek compliant products that are acceptable to students and must continue to comply with the requirement to offer at least half of all grains as whole-rich grain products according to the 2013-2014 school year standards.

For more details, please read the full USDA memo, which includes:
  • Background information on the whole-grain rich requirement
  • Guidance for State agencies on how to handle the exemption process
  • Expectations and requirements for school food authorities that are granted an exemption
  • Criteria that State agencies may take into consideration when evaluating exemption requests
  • Resources pertaining to the whole-grain rich requirement 
AHG New Logo News from The Alliance for a Healthier Generation


School Breakfast Rock Stars Share their Tips  
There are many ways to serve breakfast at school - what's important is that kids get the healthy fuel they need for their bodies and minds to grow. During National School Breakfast Week, we celebrated our school champions across the country who give students a healthy way to start to their day. Check out their recipes, tips, and tools such as offering a "second chance breakfast"  between the first and second hours of school to increase participation. Follow the conversation on social media using #NSBW.


Just Released: Study on Plate Waste 
A new study released in the journal Childhood Obesity found that since the updated nutrition standards went into effect for school meals, more students are choosing fruit and fewer vegetables are ending up in garbage cans.


A New Place to Swap Ideas and Stay Informed 
Visit the American Heart Association's new web page to read stories of healthy school meal implementation success . You can also read the latest news about school meals, join the conversation on social media, and get inspired by stories from across the country!


School Nutrition Leaders Visit Capitol Hill 
On February 24, more than 50 district and school leaders, educators, parents, students and food service professionals met with their representatives in Congress to share how they have been able to successfully comply with school meals regulations and the positive effects these changes have had on the learning environment at their schools. Follow #Nutrition4Kids on Twitter to learn more about the event.
Sysco & US Foods

In December of 2013, Sysco and US Foods announced their plan to merge together to form a single foodservice distribution company. Following a regulatory review by the Federal Trade Commission, a suit was filed challenging the potential merger. Sysco has agreed to sell 11 US Foods facilities to Performance Food Group in an effort to allay the Federal Trade Commission's concerns of weakened competition due to the merger, however the deal has not yet been approved. Discussion and review will continue between parties leading up to an administrative trial this summer, which could decide whether the Sysco / US Foods merger would reduce competition enough to violate antitrust laws and be blocked or not.

In anticipation of the potential Sysco / US Foods merger, consider the distributor market in the k12 foodservice industry according to the data in AwardedBids.com. The below chart features a 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 marketshare comparison for the some of the most prominent distributors: 

AwardedBids.com represents approximately 50% of the k12 market. This report included 96% of 2014-2015 data at time of the report. 
Vending Round-up 

There is an an ever-growing demand placed on school foodservice professionals; a demand to serve an increasing number of meals, to satisfy a diverse array of tastes, and to do it all in a quick and efficient manner. Many companies are developing school-friendly vending machines to help schools make food readily available to students. Check out our round-up of some of the vending machines on the market:
  • Healthy YOU Vendingoffers a vending machine system that is completely geared toward healthy and natural/organic vending choices.
  • Horizon OneSource Healthy Vending:  place the machines anywhere in the district, and students can use their meal price eligibility, meal accounts and cash to receive meals.
  • PCS Star Vending Machine: serve remote locations, increase participation, and provide reimbursable and a la carte vending.
  • Diji-Touch Interactive Vendinginteractive vending machines featuring touch-screens, product information, and more.
  • AMS (Automated Merchandising Systems)featuring the patented Sensit® guaranteed product delivery system. Extended helix rotation and an infrared beam guarantee delivery or the customer's money is returned.
  • Crane Merchandising Systemsmade up of six brands: National Vendors, Dixie Narco Vending Systems, Automatic Products, Streamware, Crane GPL, and Stentorfield.
  • Star Food Healthy Express: designed just for school systems to solve the problem of shrinking budgets, pressure on lunch room space and limited time periods.
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