Lee County School Board approves $250,000 food bid
A precarious food bid from three vendors to provide food products to the Lee County School District was passed 5-0 on Tuesday night.
The bid listed under the board’s consent agenda asked the district to provide $250,000 to the Department of Food and Nutritional Services to purchase items not included within the state’s “Power Buying” program.
The program consists of 38 districts that purchase food products in bulk. Wayne Nagy, director of food and nutritional services, said the district held off buying items in order to find them cheaper locally.
On Tuesday night Superintendent James Browder said the bid is for sundry items.
“It gives us the opportunity to purchase those other kinds of things we need in district school cafeterias. One is Interstate Gourmet Coffee Roaster, but they sell other things besides coffee,” said Browder.
Two of the three companies that placed bids specialize in the distribution of coffee — Interstate Gourmet Coffee Roasters in South Easton, Mass., and Stan’s Coffee Service in Lehigh Acres.
The other Florida-based company, School Food Services System, provides dry grocery items such as canned goods.
According to the bid sheet for all three companies, School Food Services System would sell the district the majority of food products in the bid — canned corn, peaches, pickles, spaghetti sauce or spices.
On the other hand, of the $250,000 included in the bid, $86,615 or 35 percent is assigned to the purchases of coffee products — regular and decaffeinated coffee, tea, hot chocolate and creamer.
From Interstate Gourmet Coffee Roasters the district would spend $14,997 for coffee, $17,274 for decaf coffee, $2,979 for tea and $1,496 for decaf tea. From Stan’s Coffee Service coffee orders would be $16,896 for coffee, $18,282 for decaf coffee, $1,056 for hot cocoa, $3,045 for tea and $840 for decaf tea.
Each case being sold to the district contains 12.5 pounds of coffee. From Interstate Gourmet Coffee alone that amounts to about 7,500 pounds of coffee. Stan’s Coffee would be about 14,000 pounds.
While some culinary programs in the district require coffee for their programs, officials agree the amount being purchased is high.
“Most teachers have to buy their own coffee, by the way,” said Board Member Robert Chilmonik. “We don’t buy gourmet coffee for our teachers.”