Vermonters Feeding Vermonters
PUBLIC QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
The deadline to submit questions to the Vermont Foodbank via the survey link provided was November 27, 2017. These questions and answers were posted publicly on the Vermont Foodbank website on December 8, 2017. A total of 15 vendors submitted questions. Questions are categorized by subject below. Please see the Request for Applications (RFA) for more detailed information, guidelines and partnership requirements at www.vtfoodbank.org/VFV.
- How are prices determined?
- Are you able to pay fair market prices for the crops listed?
- What level of reimbursement do you anticipate?
- Is the rate variable by crop?
- Any preference granted to vendors offering lower rates?
- What is the budget for compensating farms for the food?
- Does this program have a price point system?
- If your farm is organic does the food sell for more?
Vendors set their price for products in their proposals to the Foodbank. Please see page 10 of the RFA. The Foodbank expects to pay a wholesale / fair market price for each crop. A select team of Foodbank VFB staff will review all submitted applications from vendors. The Foodbank review team will take the wholesale price point that the vendor proposes into consideration along with other factors when selecting which Vermont growers and suppliers to work with for this pilot program. See page 2 of the RFA for the RFA Review Process.
- What method of distribution will be used to receive the food from farmers? (farmers deliver, on farm pick-up, etc.)
- Will the Foodbank pick up product from our facility or do we deliver? Where would the Foodbank take delivery?
- Will the Foodbank be picking up the food or expecting delivery? If delivery, to what part of the state?
Vendor delivery requirements are (See page 2 of RFA for all partnership requirements):
- Deliver a minimum of 2 pallets (3 pallets encouraged) at a time (of one or multiple crops) to the Vermont Foodbank locations in Brattleboro, Barre and/or Rutland. Note: No mixed pallets accepted. Each pallet must be of one crop type.
- Deliver product that is safe for human consumption and free of any contamination.
- Deliver product in transport vehicles that are free of contamination and maintain proper product temperatures.
- Deliver product that meets Vermont Foodbank product labeling, grading and packaging standards.
PRODUCT AND QUANTITY QUESTIONS
- What amounts of food is this program looking to buy from each involved farm?
- Which crops do you need grown?
- Are there specific crops you are more interested in?
- Are there specific types of crops desired for farmers to grow in the program?
- What types of foods will you be looking for – Specific kinds? Foods grown in greenhouse or fields?
- We grow wheatgrass & microgreens year round – would you be interested in this?
- Will you have meat (beef & pork) in this program? How will it have to be packaged? Will you take frozen meat
- Where will it have to be delivered to? Will Vermont inspected be acceptable?
- Are you looking for vegetables only? Will you be considering milk, eggs, cheeses, pork, chicken, beef, fish, etc?
- Would you be interested in apples, in bulk bins, from September through December?
- Are you looking for blueberries? Strawberries? Raspberries?
- Would you be interested in other vegetables that are not listed on the application? For example: sweet peppers, tomatoes, winter storage radishes?
- Will you accept product from QC Canada, less than 25 miles from VT border?
- How often will you purchase products?
- Will you want all of the food delivered at once or in regular intervals (weekly, monthly)?
- Who will be storing all the food, until it can be sent out to those who need it?
- Do you want more of the food in the summer or from winter storage crops to expand fresh food availability year round?
In total, the Foodbank anticipates purchasing approximately 150,000 pounds of Vermont grown produce for the 2018 pilot of this program. All produce purchased through this program must be grown in Vermont. The specific crops and quantities desired are listed on page 5-6 of the RFA. When completing the application, vendors are encouraged to specify which month(s) of the year the product is available and the frequency of deliveries that is feasible (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, once per month, etc). The Foodbank will purchase produce from selected vendors between Feb/March 2018 thru December 2018. Once agreements are made with vendors, a delivery schedule will be agreed upon. The Foodbank will not do any long-term storage of food, but distribute food that is delivered by vendors within approximately one week.
- How much cleaning, processing and packing will be expected?
- We will have No. 2 quality potatoes available November through April. Can these potatoes be delivered in 2000 lb tote bags?
- If we supplied our own plastic totes on the pallet, can we get them back? Or would you prefer waxed boxes which would increase the price of the product?
Crops sold to the Foodbank must be assessed for quality standards based on style, size, firmness and cleanliness. The Foodbank has adapted U.S. Grade A Standards provided by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to develop a set of product standards for Foodbank vendors. The Foodbank requires product to meet the highest quality U.S. No. 1 grade standards, meaning a specific crop must be fresh and/or firm, fairly well shaped and colored, fairly clean, and free from rot, decay and damage. The Foodbank will not be purchasing No. 2 quality produce in this program. Please see page 4 of the RFA for specific quality standards, including packaging requirements.
- Will the Foodbank be prioritizing subsidized non-profit food hubs over individual low profit farmers when they are not competing for this contract on equal footing?
- On what basis will farms be chosen? Cheapest? Longevity? Experience? Good Environmental practices? Ability to deliver large quantities?
A select team of Foodbank staff will review all submitted applications from vendors. The Foodbank review team will use the following criteria to decide which Vermont growers and suppliers are selected for this pilot program: experience and history of producing/distributing large quantities of products via a wholesale market; ability to provide large/palletized quantities of products at one time; ability to deliver products to regional Foodbank warehouses in transport vehicles that are free of contamination and maintain proper product temperatures; ability to meet Foodbank requirements including food safety, quality, packaging, and labeling standards; ability to meet annual commitments; and competitive wholesale price point.
- Would the Vermont Foodbank be able to supply volunteers for crop mobs and work parties?
We glean crops that have been donated by farmers with the help of volunteers primarily in the Chittenden County region and the greater Brattleboro area. Gleaning will not be a part of the VFV program.
- Is this a funded program?
VFV is funded with the support of grants and private donations.
- What are the Foodbank’s requirements for liability insurance?
- What kind of insurance will be required?
$1M of Liability coverage; $1M Auto coverage; $1M Umbrella and Workers’ Compensation
- What are the Foodbank’s requirements for 3rd party food safety audits?
The Vermont Foodbank is audited by a 3rd party for food safety standards; it is not something that is required of our partners or vendors, but we encourage it. We expect food to be handled safely and at proper temperatures, using food safety protocols as a guideline.
- What happens when there is a crop failure on a contracted crop?
The Foodbank and vendors will sign a letter of understanding (versus a contract) that specifies our intentions and agreement to purchase produce in quantities and at the unit price and frequency agreed upon. The vendor will be asked to agree in good faith to make this product available to the Foodbank unless it is mutually agreed that growing conditions made fulfillment too difficult. If the product cannot reasonably be provided at the quantities and prices, neither the Foodbank nor the vendor is under obligation or due compensation regarding the agreement. The vendor shall, as soon as reasonably known, give the Foodbank notice of any anticipated inability to supply the product.
- We are 3 miles from the Brattleboro Foodbank, would it be possible to arrange w/ the Foodbank to pick up pallets of fruit at our farm?
The Vermont Foodbank may be able to pick up product from farms that are within a 5 mile radius of our Brattleboro or Barre facility only. However, we encourage these farms to arrange other delivery methods.
VERMONT FOODBANK PROGRAM QUESTIONS
- Do you have demand established for each crop listed?
- Will the produce be available to all members who order through the Foodbank?
Produce from this program will be distributed through our regular channels: our network of 215 partnering food shelves, meal sites, senior centers and after-school programs across the state in addition to individuals and families at schools and healthcare facilities through our mobile food pantry program – VeggieVanGo. Over the years, we have seen increased demand for fresh produce, especially in response to our VT Fresh program where we engage over 5,000 Vermonters each year in trying and tasting new vegetables – many of them locally grown. Last year, the Foodbank distributed 2.1 million pounds of produce in Vermont.