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Request for Information: Prepared Meal Vendor

The Greater Chicago Food Depository seeks to enhance its existing network of food service providers to supply nutritious, culturally relevant meals. We are looking to partner with food service businesses to prepare and distribute ready-to-eat meals to shelters and program locations throughout Chicago.

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Background

The Greater Chicago Food Depository's mission is to end hunger. As a part of our work, we seek to partner with and invest in community-based meal providers who can prepare and deliver hot meals just in time for neighbors we aim to support. Specifically, we are conducting a Request for Information for food service providers who can prepare and deliver hot lunches and dinners at scale to individuals and families who are temporarily living in shelters throughout Chicago.

The Opportunity

The Food Depository seeks to enhance its existing network of food service providers to supply nutritious, culturally relevant meals within stringent food safety guidelines. We are looking to partner with food service businesses to prepare and distribute ready-to-eat meals to shelters and program locations throughout Chicago.

Qualifications

Please review the appendix to understand service expectations under this program.

To qualify, vendors must:

  1. Be able to prepare hot, nutritious meals (lunch or dinner), at least 300 meals per day, seven days a week, and deliver them within shelter-specified delivery windows.
  2. Be agile and responsive to program needs, demonstrating a history of rapid scalability and flexibility.
  3. Possess comprehensive knowledge of food safety protocols and hold relevant certifications.
  4. Provide evidence of a current health inspection report and maintain a current Certificate of Insurance naming the Greater Chicago Food Depository as an Additional Insured, as detailed in Appendix No. 2.
  5. Fulfill City of Chicago-mandated program criteria, including culturally affirming meal options and rigorous quality control standards, as detailed in Appendix No. 1.
  6. Fulfill Food Depository-mandated program criteria (see Appendix Nos. 1 - 3).
  7. Ensure meals are fully prepared, as no on-site serving is required. All meals should adhere to the nutritional guidelines detailed in the program's requirements.

Submission Criteria

To respond to this Request for Information, please submit the following items for review:

  • Bio
  • Company profile
  • Proof of capacity
  • Safety certifications
  • Evidence of previous large-scale service delivery
  • Statement of capabilities, including a narrative describing your approach to cultural inclusivity in meal preparation.

Please email your questions and responses to [email protected] or [email protected]. Thank you for considering this opportunity.

Appendix

Appendix No. 1: Quality and Food Safety Requirements

  1. Ingredients: As part of the commitment to ensuring the safety and health of all program recipients, meals CANNOT, under any circumstances, contain tree nuts, peanuts, or shellfish. The Contractor will provide signage in English and Spanish to communicate the meal names and inclusion of any other allergens used in their preparation (e.g., Creamy Chicken Pasta: CONTAINS WHEAT AND MILK INGREDIENTS). This careful ingredient selection and signage will help safeguard the well-being of our community members and ensure
    broader accessibility of the provided meals.
  2. Product Integrity: The Contractor must ensure that products and packaging have not been tampered with or contaminated at any stage, including but not limited to the growing, sourcing, storing, delivery, and set-up processes.
  3. Meal Containers: The Contractor shall utilize only food-grade containers and utensils for meal transport and distribution. All food service trays must be properly sealed and maintained at the appropriate temperature, i.e., hot food must be delivered hot (at or higher than 140℉), and cold food must be delivered cold (at or below 41℉). The Contractor must measure food temperature in the food trays at the kitchen and at the delivery site. The Contractor must maintain food temperature logs for the duration of participating in the program and make them available for inspection upon request by the Food Depository. All food should be transported and set up using equipment that maintains the appropriate temperature(s). All food trays must be clearly labeled with ingredients and the date the food was prepared. Trays that are safe for reheating must be labeled as such. If a portion of the meal cannot be reheated (e.g., side salad), it must be delivered in a separate food-grade container and labeled non-reheatable. All labeling of food trays must be provided in English and Spanish.

Appendix No. 2: General Program Requirements

  1. Documentation: Before participating in the program, the Contractor must complete the Food Depository's Vendor Onboarding Form and provide a copy of its W-9, ACH information (via a voided check or on bank letterhead), and Certificate of Insurance. The Certificate of Insurance must name the Food Depository as an Additional Insured, and insurance coverage must remain timely throughout the Contractor's participation in the program. From time-to-time, the Food Depository may ask the Contractor to fill out surveys or other forms to help improve and grow the program. The Contractor agrees to cooperate with such requests promptly and comprehensively.
  2. Meal Preparation Locations: The Contractor must prepare meals in a licensed commercial kitchen. Each kitchen must have an up-to-date health inspection report, with no critical open or uncorrected actions unaddressed by management. Before participating in the program, the Contractor must provide the Food Depository with a copy of its most recent health inspection report for any kitchen used to provide the Services. If additional health inspections are undertaken during the course of its participation in the program, the Contractor must provide the Food Depository with copies of those inspection reports upon receipt. The Food Depository prohibits the Contractor from preparing or distributing food from homes, apartments, or other buildings zoned as residential properties.
  3. Certifications: The Food Depository requires the Contractor's staff to hold Food Service Sanitation Manager certifications (ServSafe or comparable). For sites located within Chicago, the staff must also have the accompanying City of Chicago food service sanitation certificates. These certificates should be immediately accessible upon request.

Appendix No. 3: Meal Requirements – Nutrition and Configuration

  1. Nutritional Guidelines: The Contractor must provide well-balanced and nutrition-rich meals. All meals must be built on a framework that helps meet the requirements to adhere to the following minimum daily requirements:
    • 6.5 ounces/equivalent of protein (meat, poultry, seeds, or meat alternate)
    • 3 cups/equivalent of dairy
    • 3.5 cups/equivalent of vegetables
    • 2 cups/equivalent of fruits
    • 9 ounces/equivalent grain, bread, or bread alternative, preferably whole grain
  2. Equipment: The Contractor is responsible for providing buffet-style catering, including trays, tray serving utensils, stands, and equipment to ensure the meals are maintained at the appropriate temperature. Please do not send equipment with open flames (e.g., Sterno cans).
  3. Cultural Considerations: Meals should include culturally affirming options for the Venezuelan and Central American taste palate and universally known and liked foods such as hamburgers, hotdogs, baked and fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, Italian foods, etc. Spicy items should be served separately and not mixed in with the primary component of the meal.
  4. Other:
    • A 30-day minimum menu rotation is required and must be submitted two weeks before implementation.
    • No beverages are needed.
    • No cutlery, plates, or napkins are needed.
    • Meals should be prepared on the delivery day or within 24 hours of delivery if same-day preparation is not feasible.
    • Meals must be delivered fully prepared. All lunches and dinners should be hot.
    • Meals are for drop-off and set-up only. No serving is required.