Request For Proposals Frequently Asked Questions

Questions added 04/30/2020

Q: I need assistance on how to write a proposal, can USDA help?
A: USDA is unable to offer guidance on certain matters that may give one offeror an advantage over another. Examples of this may be pricing, how to craft a proposal, or creating a distribution network. The Small Business Administration offers procurement technical assistance centers or (PTAC) to those who qualify.

Q: Fresh fruit and vegetables are seasonal products, can I offer a combination of different products based on the different periods of performance?
A: Yes, the table in exhibit 2 allows offerors to submit a combination of different products for each time period proposed. Exhibit 2 may be replicated to allow for space expansion. The offeror must use the same column order, format and contents as the original exhibit. All submissions must be legible and complete.

Q: Can pre-cooked pork or chicken products (CLIN 0003) be frozen?
A: The state of refrigeration is open and likely dependent on what is proposed so long as food safety is paramount throughout the entire distribution process.

Q: Is the contracted distributor required to remain on site while the food is distributed?
A: There is not a requirement that the contractor remain on site. The contractor is responsible for all supply chain and logistic activities necessary to ensure the boxes are distributed to persons in need of food assistance in the United States. The RFP does not dictate how this will happen.

Q: Is there a pre-approved company list?
A: No, USDA does not have a pre-approved company list for the Farmers to Families Food Box program.  

Q: I am a local fruit orchard; I do not supply fresh vegetables. Can CLIN 0001 include only fruit?
A: The RFP does not stipulate that you must include both fresh vegetables and fresh fruit together in your offering.

Q: What are the packaging sizes for the boxes?
A: It is incumbent upon the offeror to propose what size box they plan on offering and distributing.

Q: Food banks and non-profit organizations may be included in multiple RFPs. Once the contracts are awarded, how can they track how many RFPs they were included in were accepted?
A: The food bank or non-profit will need to manage their agreements with distributors and their distribution schedule.

Q: For Fluid Milk (CLIN 0005), can the products offered include both regular pasteurized milk and UHT milk?
A: No, UHT milk should be included in the dairy box (CLIN 0002).

Q: Can milk be sent in a box or returnable milk crate?
A: Fluid milk does not need to be offered in boxes. It is incumbent upon the offeror to describe the type of packaging they will provide their product in.

Q: Do I need to go through the new vendor process to participate in the Farmers to Families Food Box program?
A: No. However, if you would like to participate in our other programs, you need to follow instructions on how to become a vendor.

Q: Do I need to submit exhibit 3 with my proposal?
A: No, however exhibit 3 may be requested by the Contracting Officer for clarification.

Q: Where is the amendment? How do I find the SF-30?
A: The amendment and subsequent SF-30 are found on the webpage. Look for the link titled “RFP – ER Acquisition, Amendment 1-SF30”.

Q.   if there is not room on standard form 1449 to include all the required elements for items 19 -24, can I reference them as an attachment?
A.   Yes, for entries in which there is not room to include all the required elements, you may reference their location as an attachment.

Questions posted 4/27/2020

What is the best way to receive all the details about this program?
A.  USDA will post pertinent details regarding this program to the Agricultural Marketing Service website. Interested parties may also sign up for emails by subscribing to Stay Up To Date on USDA Food Purchases.

Q.  Can colleges, universities or non-profits be the federal prime contract holder?
A.  The offering entity must have or obtain a D&B number and must be able to demonstrate all item requirements under the RFP Offeror Capability section. There are no further restrictions on participation. 

Q.  Do I need to be pre-approved and how do I demonstrate my ability to perform?
A.  There is no requirement for pre-approval to make an offer on the RFP. Proposal Part 2 and the required information on exhibit 6 will demonstrate capability and are required RFP submission elements.

Q.  Can you please explain key quality requirements associated with this solicitation?
A.  The Emergency Acquisition Master Solicitation for Commodity Procurement (incorporated by reference into the RFP) contains pertinent quality requirements. Please see clause “4A52.246-1(a) Contract Quality Requirements.” 

Q.  Please explain the goal of the government regarding execution of these contracts?
A.  The prime contractor receiving an award is responsible for all aspects of contract performance. The aspects of performance include but are not limited to sourcing product for inclusion in boxes, conducting all aspects of preparing the boxes, sourcing and communicating with non-profits and transportation and final delivery of boxes to the non-profit on a mutually agreeable, recurring schedule.

Q.  Are there small business or priority set-asides for specifics types of businesses and producers?
A.  There are no small business or specialty set-asides. Offerors should carefully review the technical proposal factors and subfactors in the RFP and address all elements required, including engagement of small farms and impact to local and regional agriculture.

Q.  Who can receive food under this program?
A.  Recipients identified as food banks, food pantries, churches, schools, community groups and other non-profit and governmental organizations may receive deliveries under this program. 

Q.  Can you please explain what “base period” and “option periods” mean and how they work?
A.  The base period is the initial performance period under the contract (e.g. May 15-June 30). The option periods extend the contract’s period of performance (at the unilateral right of the government) in two-month increments (e.g. Option 1: July-August, Option 2: September – October, Option 3: November – December). During the initial proposal submission offerors may offer different prices for the option periods of the contract.

Q.  How frequently should deliveries take place to non-profit entities?
A.  The offeror can propose a delivery schedule that is mutually agreed to by the non-profit they are serving.

Q.  How will my offer be evaluated? Will the lowest priced offerors be awarded first?
A.  The contracting officer will evaluate proposals. Proposals will be evaluated on the four components in descending order of importance: 1) Technical Information, 2) Past Performance, 3) Offeror Capability and 4) Price.

Q.  Please clarify if raw milk and “lunch meat” are acceptable content for the boxes.
A.  The program will only accept “lunch meat” that consists of pre-cooked chicken or pork. Raw milk is not acceptable under the program.

Q. Louisiana was not listed in any region in the list, please clarify.
A. The solicitation will be amended to add Louisiana to the Southwest Region

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