Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

New School Food Service Contracts Unit

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Action Required, Beneficial Information

To: School Food Authorities Participating in School Nutrition Programs

Number: NSD-SNP-15-2013

Attention: District Superintendents, School Business Officials, Food Service Directors, County Superintendents of Schools, Charter School Directors, and Residential Child Care Institution Administrators

Date: September 2013

Subject: New School Food Service Contracts Unit and Procurement Timelines

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations sections 210.16, 210.19, 210.21, 210.24, 220.16, 3016 and 3019; [Note: Effective October 1, 2015, Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, (7 CFR) parts 3016 and 3019 have been superseded by Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200]; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Contracting with Food Service Management Companies: Guidance for School Food Authorities, April 2009; USDA Final Rule Procurement Requirements for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast and Special Milk Programs, Vol. 72, No. 210 p. 61479, October 31, 2007. [Note:  Effective October 1, 2015, Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200 superseded Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 3016 and 3019.]

This Management Bulletin (MB) officially announces the formation of the new School Food Service Contracts Unit (SFSCU) within the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) of the California Department of Education (CDE). Additionally, this MB provides SFSCU guidance and timelines for submitting procurement documents for review and approval.

Role of the School Food Service Contracts Unit

Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR) Section 210.19(a)(5) requires state agencies to review the procurement process (including contract management) and ensure compliance of School Food Authority (SFA) contracts with Food Service Management Companies (FSMC). In addition, 7 CFR sections 210.24 and 220.18 require that the CDE withhold program funds (e.g., reimbursement and/or grants) from an SFA that is non-compliant with any section of the regulations. To help prevent any interruption of services for qualifying meal reimbursements through the California Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS), it is essential that SFAs take measures to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, policies, and statutes required for procurement procedures. Details can be found on the USDA School Meals Program Regulations Web page at

The NSD formed the SFSCU to meet these regulatory requirements and provide guidance to SFAs that choose to contract with an FSMC. Unit staff will assist SFAs to ensure that the SFA’s solicitation process (including the Request for Proposal [RFP]) and resulting contract comply with applicable state and federal laws, regulations, statutes, and policies. This will include a formal review and approval of all FSMC RFPs prior to release, including the supporting solicitation documents, and resulting contracts prior to execution.

Review and Approval Processes

The SFSCU is developing processes and templates to streamline the CDE’s review and approval process, including sample contracts. As a first step, the CDE will issue a sample RFP and fixed-price contract through an upcoming MB. Other types of sample contracts will follow.

As shared earlier, SFAs must submit their proposed RFP and contract to the CDE prior to release. The SFA can release their RFP only after CDE approval. The process starts with the completion of a questionnaire to focus the technical assistance provided to the individual needs and business operations of each SFA. The SFSCU has already mailed the questionnaire to SFAs that have FSMC contracts expiring June 30, 2014, and will also post the questionnaire on the CDE’s Procurement Web page. The SFSCU will provide SFAs with a procurement timeline after review of the questionnaire responses.

New Requests for Proposals and Contracts

The following timeline is for SFAs that are creating a new RFP and contract with an effective date of July 1, 2014. It is based on the expectation that all steps will occur as outlined. Some of these steps may occur at a different rate, which will either shorten or lengthen the timeline. After the SFA has completed its selection and negotiation with a potential FSMC, the SFA must submit their completed RFP package and proposed contract documents to the CDE for final review and approval, including all proposals received, copies of the public announcements, scoring sheets, and selection justification. SFAs should allow a minimum of 30 days for the final CDE review and approval process. SFSCU Contract Specialists will provide assistance and support during the following steps:

  1. SFA submits initial RFP package to the CDE
  2. CDE reviews and approves RFP documents (90 days)
  3. SFA advertises the proposal (14 days)
  4. SFA allows a minimum of 21 days for FSMC proposal submittal
  5. SFA evaluates proposals (7 days)
  6. SFA selects a proposal (7 days)
  7. SFA negotiates contract terms (determined by SFA)
  8. SFA submits all bidding documents and proposed contract to the CDE
  9. CDE reviews and approves final contract(30 days)
  10. SFA executes final contract
  11. SFA submits signed copy of final contract to the CDE
  12. CDE reviews and approves executed contract; requests changes if executed contract differs from approved, proposed contract

In order to avoid processing delays, SFAs are required to submit their RFP and contract documents to the CDE no later than January 2, 2014. The CDE cannot guarantee contract approval prior to the planned contract effective date for any submissions after this deadline.

Contract Extensions and Amendments

For SFAs that are extending or amending an existing FSMC contract, the process is as follows:

  1. SFA submits proposed contract extension or amendment to the CDE
  2. CDE reviews and approves final contract or amendment(30 days)
  3. SFA executes final contract
  4. SFA submits signed copy of final contract to the CDE
  5. CDE reviews and approves executed contract; requests changes if executed contract differs from approved, proposed contract

SFAs should submit their contract documents to the CDE 60 calendar days prior to the start date of the contract. Late submissions may result in delayed contract start dates.

Additional Information

Please note, SFAs cannot use cafeteria funds to pay for the services of an FSMC that is not under a CDE-approved contract.

For more information about FSMC contracts, please visit the CDE FSMC Procurement Web page at

The SFSCU designates a contract specialist for each county in California. To find your county's contract specialist, log into CNIPS, select Applications, Download Forms, and click on Caseload. SFAs must work with their assigned specialist during the procurement process. If there is no specialist assigned to your county, please contact Debbie Reeves, Office Technician, by phone at 916-319-0636 or by e-mail at, or send an email to

Questions:   School Food Service Contracts Unit | 916-319-0636
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Related Content
  • Procurement in School Nutrition Programs
    Federal procurement regulations for school food authorities (SFA) for contracting with food service management companies (FSMC), vendors, or competitively procuring food.
Recently Posted in Nutrition