SFAs must follow procurement procedures for all purchases for goods or services that are supported in whole or in part with non-profit food service account funds. Following proper procurement procedures helps ensure that procurements are fair, open, and competitive.

The OPI School Nutrition Programs conducts procurement monitoring and training to assist districts with compliance of the rules. 

All procurement in the Child Nutrition Programs must comply with:

  • 2 CFR 200;
  • USDA Program regulations (7 CFR Part 210, Part 215, Part 220, Part 225, Part 226, Part 245, and Part 250 as applicable);
  • State law, regulations, and policies that are not in conflict with Federal requirements; and
  • Local law, regulations, and policies that are not in conflict with Federal requirements.



Submitting a Capital Expenditure
Request for Other Equipment

For any capital expenditure requests using School Nutrition Program funds with a unit cost of $5,000 or greater and/or that are not included on the USDA preapproved equipment list, program operators must submit a completed Equipment Purchase Request Form for the State Agency to review and approve. 

Equipment Purchase Request Form





Procurement Frequently Asked Questions

Why do procurement regulations matter?

These regulations are important because it ensures taxpayers' funds are used properly, and that schools are receiving the best and most responsive product at the lowest possible price.


Where can I find the procurement regulations?

  • The Federal procurement requirements are published HERE.

How can schools use funds from the nonprofit school food service account?

  1. Purchase food, supplies, and equipment required for the school’s meal preparation and service;
  2. Purchase prepared meals from vendors or joint preparatory schools;
  3. If utilizing a food service management company (FSMCs), can pay the FSMC to operate their food service or carry out significant food service functions; and
  4. Pay for labor and other administrative and operational costs related to the food service.
Any funds from the nonprofit school food service account used to procure goods or services must be used according to:
  • The uniform government wide requirements found in 2 CFR 200, which implement program specific requirements found in the School Nutrition Program regulations (7 CFR Part 210, Part 215, and Part 220).

Procurements made by schools that are not in accordance with the government wide and program specific requirements cannot be paid for with nonprofit school food service account funds.

Procurement Requirements

Public institutions or organizations must follow the most restrictive of state, local, or federal procurement standards.

All SFAs must have their procurement guidelines in writing. SFAs must also maintain a written “standard of conduct” following 2 CFR 200.318(c)(1) and have written protest procedures in place to handle and resolve any disputes relating to their procurement processes.

All procurements in the School Nutrition Programs must be competitive and when made with non-profit school food service account funds must also meet all standards set forth in program regulations and applicable OMB Cost Circulars. Child Nutrition Programs are governed by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under 7 CFR Parts 210, 215, 220, 3016, and 3019 (as applicable).

Procurement Methods


Micro-purchase means a purchase of products or services where the total amount does not exceed $10,000 per transaction.

To the extent practicable, purchases must be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers with reasonable prices.

You can identify if a price is reasonable by comparing prices from previous purchases, have personal knowledge of the item being purchased, or comparing prices to similar items being purchased. Check out Market News to get an idea of prices.


  • Receipts documenting total amount purchased falls below $10,000.
  • Documentation showing how purchases are being distributed equitably among qualified suppliers.
  • If only one qualified supplier, must document why there is only one qualified supplier. Include reasons, such as labor and mileage cost for driving to another location.

Informal Procurement

The Informal Procurement Method is commonly referred to as procurement under the small purchase threshold or simplified acquisitions. Although this method is permitted when the amount of a purchase falls at or below the most restrictive small purchase threshold ($80,000 in Montana), a school food authority could choose to use the formal procurement method rather than the informal procurement method.

The following steps are typically involved in an informal procurement:

  1. Develop specifications in writing.
    • Describe the goods or services that are needed
    • Any due dates or other requirements
  2. Identify sources eligible, able, and willing to provide products.
  3. Contact at least two sources.
  4. Evaluate quotes and response to your written specifications.
  5. Determine most responsive and responsible bidder at lowest price. Keep procurement documentation.


  • Specifications.
  • Receipts, invoices.
  • Documentation of price quotes from adequate number of sources (2 or more).
  • If only one qualified supplier, must document why there is only one qualified supplier. Include reasons, such as labor and mileage cost for driving to another location.

Formal Procurement

For purchases greater than the small purchase threshold ($80,000) follow the formal procurement process, using either a request for proposals (RFP) or invitation for bid (IFB).

Formal procurement occurs when a school food authority’s purchases exceed the Federal, State, or local small purchase threshold (whichever is more restrictive).

Montana’s small purchase threshold is $80,000, which is more restrictive than the federal threshold of $150,000.  Within formal procurement there are two methods available:

Competitive Sealed Bid/Invitation for Bid (IFB)

This is a formal type of procurement where sealed bids are publicly advertised and result in a firm fixed price contract. Price is the determining factor. Choose vendor with lowest price that meets specifications. This type of procurement:

  • Is used for food products that require detailed specifications- such as whole fresh apples detailing size, variety, quantities, delivery, other conditions.
  • Determines if a vendor is responsive and responsible by whether or not they meet the requirements.
  • Can use Geographic Preference.

The following steps are typically involved in a formal procurement using an IFB:

  1. Develop solicitation specifications;
  2. Publicly announce/advertise the solicitation;
  3. Open sealed bids at a pre-determined time, date, and location stated in the solicitation;
  4. Determine the lowest bid from a responsive and responsible bidder, and award the contract.

Competitive Proposal/Request for Proposal (RFP)

Price is a factor and can be negotiated. Price should be the primary factor (for example, not necessarily 51%, it just must be the greatest number of all factors so could be 25% if everything else listed in the scoring is lower). This type of procurement: 

  • Allows for consideration of other factors than price. Other factors: technical expertise, past experience, quality of proposed staffing. Awarded to vendor who can provide best overall value. Can use Geographic Preference.
  • Requires that RFP is publicized and include specs and evaluation factors.
  • Can negotiate with one or more vendors submitting offers.
  • Includes two main elements as a part of the response to the proposal - technical proposal and cost proposal.

The following steps are typically involved in a formal procurement using a RFP:

  1. Develop solicitation specifications​;
  2. Publicly announce/advertise the solicitation;
  3. Evaluate proposals using established scoring criteria included in the solicitation;
  4. Enter negotiations with responders who meet or exceed cut-off score; and
  5. Award the contract to the most responsive and responsible vendor whose proposal is most advantageous to the program, with price and other factors considered.

Food Service Management Contracts: If interested in contracting with a Food Service Management Company, please contact the OPI School Nutrition Programs for required forms and documents. 

Local Procurement

Procurement Resources & Policies




 All USDA memos for School Nutrition Programs, including procurement policies, can be found HERE.



For questions about School Nutrition Programs procurement, contact OPI School Nutrition Programs at 406-444-2501.

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