Important principles for contracts

Introduction

Once a vendor has been selected through the RFP process, the agency must ensure a strong contract is put in place. This section highlights requirements a government agency must include in its contract in order to successfully implement the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities. Clear, specific contract language is key to helping the vendor provide and promote healthier foods and beverages.

Note that for each contract requirement, the RFP should ask potential vendors to explain how they expect to fulfill the requirement. This is explained in the RFP section.

General requirements for contracts

It is important to prepare a clear RFP that allows the government agency to identify strong candidates for the contract. As with the RFP process, the process of developing and executing contracts varies among agencies and levels of government. All federal agencies include the performance work statement (PWS) in the contract, and some federal agencies include both the PWS and the selected vendor’s technical proposal response in the contract. Agencies at other levels of government may develop a contract that lists specific requirements for the food service operation based on negotiations with the selected vendor. 

Nevertheless, ultimately it is the contract—not the RFP—that is the legally binding document that sets the terms of the relationship between the vendor and the government agency. As the agency moves into the contracting phase of the process, it is important to ensure all the details previously included in the RFP are clearly defined in the contract and understood by both parties. In particular, the requirements related to the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities should appear in the contract.

Note that for federal government agencies, the Randolph-Sheppard Act may apply to certain facilities, requiring that priority be given to blind vendors to operate those facilities. The Randolph-Sheppard Act requires a contract for cafeterias. All other concessions, vending machines, and self-service facilities require a permit. More details about the Act are provided in the Randolph-Sheppard Act and Permits section.

Scope of work for the contract

Like RFPs, contracts typically begin with a “scope of contract” clause that provides a clear and comprehensive description of the work to be done or the deliverables to be provided under the contract. The scope of work for the contract should state that the purpose of the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities is to provide specific standards for food and nutrition; facility efficiency, environmental support, and community development; food safety; and behavioral design for food service in government agencies. 

The standards included in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities are designed to ensure the following:

  • Healthier foods and beverages are available and promoted at federal facilities 
  • Environmentally responsible practices are employed in federal food service venues, and communities are economically supported through local food sourcing
  • Food safety procedures are followed to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses  

Performance requirements for the contract

The Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities must be incorporated into the contract as performance requirements. Failure to follow the requirements will result in breach of contract. The Guidelines must be incorporated into the body of the contract or included as an addendum or appendix. Simply mentioning the Guidelines by name is insufficient. Providing the vendor with easy access to the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities is important. 

Require the vendor to deliver an innovative food and wellness program

This section of the contract should be modified to include requirements related to the food and nutrition standards and behavioral design standards included in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities. Require the vendor to meet or exceed the food and nutrition standards for each type of food provided: prepared foods, packaged snacks, and beverages. All the behavioral design standards are recommended at the innovative level of implementation. They augment the food and nutrition standards, and the feasibility of their implementation may vary among different types of food service operations. 

Require the vendor to implement food and nutrition standards

REQUIREMENTS FOR PREPARED FOODS

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

When providing prepared foods, the vendor must comply with the following food and nutrition standards at the standard criteria implementation level.

  • Fruits and Vegetables
    • Offer a variety of at least 3 fruit options daily, with no added sugars. Fruit can be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried.
    • Offer a variety of at least 3 non-fried vegetable options daily. Vegetables can be fresh, frozen, or canned, and served cooked or raw.
    • Offer seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Grains
    • Offer half of total grains as “whole grain-rich” products, daily.
  • Dairy
    • Offer a variety of fat-free and low-fat (1%) dairy products daily, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy beverages.
  • Protein Foods
    • Offer a variety of protein foods, such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products, daily.
    • Offer protein foods from plants, such as legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products, at least 3 times per week.
    • Offer seafood at least 2 times a week.
  • Desserts
    • When desserts are available, offer 25% of desserts containing ≤ 200 calories as served.
  • Sodium
    • All meals offered contain ≤ 800 mg sodium.
    • All entrées offered contain ≤ 600 mg sodium.
    • All side items contain ≤ 230 mg sodium.
  • Trans fat
    • All foods do not include partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Calorie and Nutrition Labeling
    • Provide calorie and nutrition information of standard menu items as required by the Food and Drug Administration’s Menu Labeling Final Rule: Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments.
  • Other Considerations
    • Limit deep-fried entrée options to no more than 1 choice per day.

The vendor may provide exceptional performance by implementing one or more of the following standards at the innovative criteria implementation level.

  • Grains
    • Offer a “whole grain-rich” product as the first (ie, default) choice.
  • Dairy
    • When yogurt is available, offer at least 1 fat-free or low-fat (1%) plain yogurt. 
  • Protein Foods
    • Offer protein foods from plants, such as legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products, daily.

REQUIREMENTS FOR PACKAGED FOODS

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

When providing packaged foods, the vendor must comply with the following food and nutrition standards at the standard criteria implementation level.

  • All packaged snacks contain ≤ 230 mg sodium per package.
  • All packaged snacks have 0 grams of trans fat.
  • In addition to meeting the requirements above, at least 75% of packaged snacks meet the following food and nutrient standards.
    • Food Standards 
      • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or protein food; or
      • Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or 
      • Be a combination food that contains at least one-quarter cup of fruits and/or vegetables
    • Nutrient Standards
      • Calorie limit: ≤ 200 calories 
      • Saturated fat limit: < 10% of calories 
        • Exemptions: Reduced-fat cheese and part-skim mozzarella; nuts, seeds, and nut/seed butters; and dried fruit with nuts/seeds with no added nutritive sweeteners or fats
      • Sugar limit: ≤ 35% of weight from total sugars in foods
        • Exemptions: Dried/dehydrated whole fruits or vegetables with no added nutritive sweeteners; dried whole fruits or pieces with nutritive sweeteners required for processing and/or palatability; products consisting of only exempt dried fruit with nuts and/or seeds with no added nutritive sweeteners or fats
  • Calorie Labeling
    • All snack foods sold in vending machines meet the Food and Drug Administration’s Vending Machine Final Rule: Food Labeling; Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines.

REQUIREMENTS FOR BEVERAGES

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field.  These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

When providing beverages, the vendor must comply with the following food and nutrition standards at the standard criteria implementation level.

  • Provide free access to chilled, potable water.
  • When milk and fortified soy beverages are available, offer fat-free and low-fat (1%) beverages with no added sugars.
  • When juice is available, offer 100% juice with no added sugars.
  • At least 50% of available beverage choices contain ≤ 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces [excluding 100% juice and unsweetened fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk].

The vendor may provide exceptional performance by implementing following standard at the innovative criteria implementation level.

  • At least 75% of available beverage choices contain ≤ 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces [excluding 100% juice and unsweetened fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk].
     

Encourage the vendor to implement behavioral design standards to promote healthier options

REQUIREMENTS FOR BEHAVIORAL DESIGN STANDARDS

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

The vendor may provide exceptional performance by implementing one or more of the following standards at the innovative criteria implementation level.

  • Placement and Layout
    • Strategically place foods and beverages, and design the layout of food service venues to encourage consumers to select healthier foods and beverages. 
  • Product innovations and defaults
    • Use product innovations and the inclusion of healthier options the as the default option. 
  • Pricing and promotion
    • Use price incentives and marketing strategies to highlight healthier food and beverage items. 
  • Tableware
    • Promote healthier portion sizes by optimizing the size of plates, bowls, glasses, other dishware, and serving ware. 
  • Information
    • Use information, displays, decorations, and signage to highlight healthier choices. 
  • Organizational policy
    • Work with worksite wellness programs or other employee organizations to promote healthier options.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PREPARED FOODS

Depending on the context, contracts may include additional nutritional requirements beyond the standards included in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities. For instance, a contract for food service in concessions may include even stronger nutritional standards or requirements.

When foods are sold in concessions including cafeterias, cafés, grills, and snack bars, the contract may include additional nutritional requirements beyond the standards in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities that describe the food program and concepts and foods offered. 

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

  • The vendor shall provide an innovative nutrition program with major stations or concepts. 
  • The vendor shall provide a cycle menu to increase the variety of healthier foods offered. 
  • The vendor shall work with a dietitian or nutritionist in the preparation of menus, recipes, and quality control processes.
  • The vendor shall provide a variety of prepared foods that appeal to consumers with diverse dietary requirements and preferences, including but not limited to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low sodium, and low sugar.
  • The vendor shall list each menu item in the price/portion book by concept and indicate if the menu item meets the standards in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities.
  • During each serving period, the vendor shall provide easy-to-read, accurate menus with current prices, calorie and nutritional data, and allergen/dietary restrictions prominently displayed.
  • The vendor shall use healthier cooking techniques to reduce calories, sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars without sacrificing taste or quality. 
  • The vendor shall develop and implement a gradual sodium reduction plan over the contract term in consultation with [the government agency] to meet the sodium standards for meals, entrées, and sides in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities.
  • The vendor shall provide nutrition information for each food and beverage item offered for sale. As applicable, nutrition information shall include the following: 1) total number of calories derived from any source; (2) total number of calories derived from total fat; (3) total fat; (4) saturated fat; (5) cholesterol; (6) sodium; (7) total carbohydrate; (8) sugars; (9) dietary fiber; and (10) total protein. Providing this information will assist [the government agency] assessing compliance with the terms of this contract and the standards set forth in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities
  • The vendor shall use easy-to-identify icons to label foods with certain ingredients or health characteristics or to publicize healthier options on menus and displays (eg, dairy-free, peanut-free, low fat, low sodium, vegan, vegetarian). Vendor shall work in collaboration with [the government agency] staff to determine appropriate use of icons for menu options that should be labeled.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS RELATED TO VENDING MACHINES AND SELF-SERVICE FACILITIES 

Depending on the context, contracts may include additional nutritional requirements beyond the standards included in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities. For instance, a contract for vending machines and self-service facilities may include stronger nutritional standards or requirements.

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.
 
Sample Language for the Contract

  • The vendor shall provide a planogram (a planning diagram that shows the arrangement and pricing of products) for vending machines. 
  • The vendor shall maintain a complete list of the products supplied through its vending machines or self-service facilities and include for each item the nutrition information, size, and price. Providing this information will assist [the government agency] assessing compliance with the terms of this contract and the standards set forth in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities.
  • The vendor shall clearly label healthier food items in vending machines. Vendor shall work in collaboration with [the government agency] staff to determine which vending machine options constitute healthier options that should be labeled. 
  • The vendor shall maintain a list of vending machines and/or self-service facilities by location (building and floor).

Require the vendor to implement facility efficiency and sustainability program

This section of the contract should be modified to include requirements related to standards for facility efficiency, environmental support, and community development included in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities. The contract should require the vendor to meet or exceed the requirements.

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

The vendor must comply with the following standards for facility efficiency, environmental support, and community development at the standard criteria implementation level.

  • Purchasing
    • Institute accurate forecasting and just-in-time ordering concepts.
    • Provide materials for single-service items (eg, bottled beverage containers, trays, flatware, plates, and bowls) that are compostable and/or made from biobased products.
    • Use bulk-serve condiments instead of single-serve packs, while following necessary food safety procedures.
    • When purchasing packaged products, give preference to products in recyclable, compostable, or biobased packaging.
    • Use cleaning products and services that are environmentally preferable, while following necessary food safety procedures.
    • Offer at least 25% of foods and beverages as certified organic, produced with another certified environmentally beneficial practice, or locally sourced.
    • When seafood options are available, offer seafood procured from fisheries and aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed, sustainable, and healthy. Purchasing wild-captured and farmed seafood from US companies, which adhere to some of the most strict sustainability practices in the world, is one way to ensure compliance with this standard.
  • Food service management and consumer engagement
    • Promote and incentivize the use of reusable beverage containers, while following necessary food safety procedures.
    • Utilize cleaning practices and equipment operations that conserve resources, such as water and energy. These could include using ENERGY STAR and WaterSense products and services.
    • Use integrated pest management practices, green pest control alternatives, and a routine cleaning schedule, while following necessary food safety procedures.
    • When applicable, label food products at the point of purchase as certified organic, produced with another certified environmentally beneficial practice, or locally sourced.
    • FOR VENDING: If purchasing new vending machines, purchase ENERGY STAR-certified machines or those that meet ENERGY STAR criteria.
  • Waste diversion
    • Participate in and facilitate waste reduction, recycling, and composting programs in the kitchen, break rooms, and administrative areas (ie, back-of-house operations).
    • Participate in and facilitate waste reduction, recycling, and composting programs in areas that a consumer will be exposed to during his or her visit to the food service operation (ie, front-of-house operations).
    • Implement systems to monitor the relationship between waste and food procurement, including annual reporting of waste reduction and waste diversion benchmarks.
    • Repurpose excess food for future meal preparation.
    • Train staff on methods for reducing food waste.

The vendor may provide exceptional performance by implementing one or more of the following standards at the innovative criteria implementation level.

  • Purchasing
    • Offer at least 35% of foods and beverages as certified organic, produced with another certified environmentally beneficial practice, or locally sourced.
    • FOR VENDING: Offer at least 10% of the product line as certified organic, produced with another certified environmentally beneficial practice, or locally sourced.
  • Food service management and consumer engagement
    • Promote the use of reusable serving ware, such as plates, utensils, bags, and other service items.
    • Partner with a farmers market that operates on site.
    • Provide information to customers on food products that are certified organic, produced with another certified environmentally beneficial practice, or locally sourced.
    • FOR VENDING: Provide information to customers on food products that are certified organic, produced with another certified environmentally beneficial practice, or locally sourced.
    • FOR VENDING: Retrofit existing vending machines (refrigerated and non-refrigerated) to use energy conservation methods, such as LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and shut-down or set-back modes.
  • Waste diversion
    • Donate edible surplus food for human consumption where possible, while following necessary food safety procedures.

Require the vendor to deliver a food safety and sanitation program

This section of the contract should be modified to include requirements related to food safety standards included in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities. The contract should require the vendor to meet or exceed the requirements. 

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

The vendor must comply with the food safety standards for the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities, which incorporate recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code regarding the development and implementation of food safety procedures. [Note: This language may need to be amended to reflect the relevant state food code if the contract is being issued by a state agency.] 

The vendor is expected to comply with all the guidelines at the standard criteria level of implementation. The vendor may provide exceptional performance by implementing one or more of the following standards at the innovative criteria implementation level.

  • Food Safety Management System/Active Managerial Control
    • Establish a comprehensive written food safety plan that seeks to achieve active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors, including but not limited to a) improper holding temperatures; b) inadequate cooking, such as undercooking raw shell eggs; c) contaminated equipment; d) food from unsafe sources; and e) poor personal hygiene. The plan could describe the food safety procedures for the particular food service facility, including how employees are to be trained on those procedures and how leadership plans to monitor proper implementation of those procedures.
  • Undercooked Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products
    • Do not serve raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or egg products, even upon request of the customer.
  • Practices to Control Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Ready-to-Eat Products
    • Develop and implement written sanitation and temperature control programs that target the control of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in ready-to-eat products. Include documentation of the following:
      • Cleaning frequencies for equipment, utensils, and nonfood contact surfaces (eg, walls, floors, and ceilings)
      • Temperature control in coolers, deli cases, and refrigerators
  • Sick Employees
    • Develop and implement a written employee health policy that outlines the following:
      • How employees are trained on the reporting of symptoms, diagnoses, and activities that are associated with the transmission of foodborne illness from food workers and how such training is documented
      • The policies for excluding, restricting, and reinstating employees who have or report symptoms, diagnoses, or activities as described in the Food Code
  • Certified Food Protection Managers
    • Have at least 1 management/supervisory employee (not necessarily the person in charge) who is a Certified Food Protection Manager present during all hours of operation.
  • Food Handler Training
    • Develop and implement a written policy that addresses employee food safety training.

 

Management philosophy and personnel

This section of the contract should be modified to include requirements related to management philosophy and human resources. It should cover topics such as plans for effective staffing and management and vendor partnership with government staff.

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract

  • The vendor shall initiate and sustain an innovative food and wellness program that meets or exceeds the standards set forth in the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities
  • The vendor shall provide effective staffing and management that will support an innovative food and wellness program, including information that demonstrates the vendor’s understanding and management of the performance requirements.
  • The vendor shall work closely with appropriate government staff, such as facility/building managers; food program or food service facility managers; dietitians/nutritionists; and public health agency or wellness office staff to ensure that healthier foods and beverages are provided. 

 

Corporate capacity

This section of the contract should be modified to include reporting requirements, such as a reporting plan with monthly sales data, monthly or weekly operating statements, and a comparison of sales for healthier and less healthy foods and beverages items. It should also include a plan for monitoring the implementation of the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities that includes a description of the frequency of monitoring and forms that will be used. 

The sample language for these requirements has been taken from RFPs and contracts in the field. These are samples only; the language must be modified to meet the context.

Sample Language for the Contract 

  • The vendor and [the government agency] will meet [quarterly] in order to assess the operational and financial results specific to the implementation of the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities and additional requirements of the contract. This meeting must be scheduled and occur no later than [30 days] after the end of the [quarter]. 
  • The [quarterly] review will include an on-site meeting between [Contracting Officer] and the vendor’s key personnel to discuss the vendor’s compliance with the contract, including but not limited to consumer satisfaction and/or complaints; an assessment of the vendor’s implementation of the wellness and sustainability programs, including implementation of the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities; the vendor’s health and safety record; the vendor’s [and/or the government agency’s] concerns; and other subjects the parties deem necessary. If significant issues are identified during a [quarterly] review, [the government agency] will develop a performance improvement plan. The performance improvement plan will include reasonable and appropriate time frames for remediation of the issue(s) noted therein. The vendor’s failure to implement the performance improvement plan within the time frame(s) stated in the performance improvement plan may be deemed, in [the government agency’s] sole discretion, failure to perform by the vendor, for which [the government agency] may terminate for cause this contract.
  • In addition to the [quarterly] reviews, a [biannual] review shall be conducted that will include a comprehensive review of all aspects of the operation. The vendor will give a presentation of how the site is performing measured against critical benchmarks, such as sustainability goals, consumer satisfaction ratings, sales, profitability, and marketing targets. At the end of the review, the vendor will present benchmark goals for the upcoming [6 months/year] as well as a marketing plan and business plan.
  • To facilitate the [biannual] review, the vendor shall provide a written report to [the government agency]. It is in the best interest of [the government agency] to ensure the success of the vendor during the performance of this contract. The [biannual] report is intended to provide focus as to the vendor’s efforts, build a plan that is in line with industry trends, ensure the parties provide consumers with venues that meet their expectations, and build on continued operational success.
  • The [biannual] report provided and conducted by the vendor shall include a comprehensive review of the above and also shall include the items listed below. 
    •  Monthly and year-to-date sales data. 
    • Sales data for all items sold
    • Comparison of sales for healthier and less healthy food and beverage items; the vendor shall work in collaboration with [the government agency] staff to determine which items constitute healthier and less healthy items
    • Patron survey – overall results and trend analysis
    • Quantity of complaints or comments, including description of each with the vendor’s responses
    • Monthly inspections 
    • Food safety audit
    • Profit and loss statement review
    • A summary of the year’s inspection/audit reports
  • This report is intended to allow [the government agency] to determine whether the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities are being successfully implemented; determine which healthier and less healthy food and beverage options are appealing to consumers; and evaluate the effectiveness of the vendor’s healthy marketing and promotion efforts. The vendor shall work with [the government agency] in providing data in a form and manner suitable for [the government agency’s] use.

Enforcement

The government agency should strengthen compliance with the Federal Food Service Guidelines by emphasizing that noncompliance is a material breach of the contract. While a successful partnership requires a collaborative working relationship, incorporating strong enforcement provisions helps ensure successful implementation of the Federal Food Service Guidelines. Strong enforcement provisions underscore the importance of nutrition and health in the government contract, ensuring both parties understand what is expected.