Food service contracts are essentially an agreement between one or more parties and a food service provider. In some cases, this may involve school food services and in others, meals may be catered for an event. By creating this contract, both parties receive what they agreed to, and such a contract helps to avoid future complications based on miscommunications.

Food Contracts

When it comes to government contracting, food contracts tend to be in high demand. Being a fairly broad industry, food contracts cover everything from food supply to food equipment, vending machines to food catering. Not only is this industry broad, it is also one of the most highly sought among government agencies.

In fact, food RFPs or "request for proposal" are required in a wide range of settings, including in universities, hospitals, parks, airports, agriculture, and military, just to name a few.

Food Service Contract Basics

A food service agreement is essentially an agreement that has been made between a restaurant or food service business and an organization. In some cases, these agreements are also made to assist people in times of crisis. Regardless of which party you are, this agreement will outline all related terms and conditions.

For example, this agreement will establish your relationship, the type of food that will be offered, and other details involving topics such as storage, equipment, and cleanup. Whether you are hiring someone for an event or require ongoing food service, a well-planned contract is critical.

School Food Services

When serving school meals, an agreement is made between a food service provider and a private or public school. In some cases, the provider is a non-profit organization and in others, the provider will be a catering company. In terms of the contractor, they may act as a vendor or they may prepare the meals themselves. Within these schools, there are often both federal and state laws that help regulate these contracts.

Emergency Food Services

An agreement made between a mobile food service provider and the government is known as an emergency food service contract. This is utilized when there is some sort of emergency or natural disaster. Within the provisions, the government may request additional meals if required.

There are also food service contracts that can be made for catering food services and vended meals.

Food Service Management Company or "FSMC" Procurement

An FSMC, also known as a food service management company, is essentially an organization or entity that offers food service operations for a school nutritional program. In terms of food service revenues, the federal government regulates the purchase of all services and goods. In this case, the sponsor's responsible for creating and organizing all of the bid documents, in addition to the contract.

When creating a contract between you and an FSMC, this means that a profit organization or business will be responsible for operating the Child Nutrition Program — which is nonprofit. Also, the SFA is required to remain in a position of legal authority over this program at all times.

FSMC Procurement Timeline and Process

Before you begin, it's suggested that all organizations read all of the required documentation. In addition, you should access the "Timetable for Procuring a Food Service Management Company."

Any school or educational food authority that decides to obtain FSMC-related services for the following school year, is required to complete all associated requirements and have them submitted by the end of February.

Contract Types 

When it becomes time to bid for services provided by an FSMC, regardless of the contract involved, the state prototype is to be used. This not only encourages competition but ensures that the best possible contract is crafted. Based on federal regulations, SFAs must submit all annual contracts and bid documents, as well as contract extensions. These will be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education (IADE), Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services for approval.

With such a wide range of possible food service partnerships, it is important that you practice due diligence when initially creating and signing your food service contract. Be sure to include all basic information regarding both parties, the scope of services that will be provided, payment terms, conditions for termination, a possible renewal policy, liability, and contract acceptance.

If you need help creating food service contracts, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.