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Cafeteria & Food Services


Federal cafeteria and other food services impact millions of federal employees and set a precedent for the rest of the country.  These services include the preparation and offering of food and beverage items, waste management, and the ongoing management of the cafeteria space. It is not only important to provide healthy food and beverage offerings, but to do so in an environmentally sustainable way.  Federal buyers can help green contracts for cafeteria and food services by requiring sustainable food and beverage offerings, waste management programs, green cleaning and pest management practices, and the use of reusable and green products.  This type of service typically falls under NAICS code 722310 and Product Service Codes (PSC) M1FD and Z1FD.

Downloadable Resources
Selected Past Solicitations If you have past Cafeteria & Food Services green solicitations that would be informative to the green procurement community, please submit them to sftool@gsa.gov.
Required Green Products

In accordance with FAR Subpart 23.1opens in new window, federal contracts for cafeteria and food services must require contractors to use or supply products covered by the following environmental programs, when applicable:

Includes paper towels, napkins, plastic trash bags, and more.
Includes cutlery, dishwashing products, and food cleaners, and more.
Includes dishwashers, ovens, vending machines, and more.
Includes water-cooled ice machines and microwaves (FEMP Standby Power).
Includes household freezers, vending machines, and water coolers, and more.
Includes oven & grill cleaners, appliance cleaners, and more.
Includes disinfectants.
Includes food service ware, cleaning products, trash bags, and more.

Note that the above products mandated by statute are also required for GSA leases. Refer to GSA's Green Lease Policies and Proceduresopens in new window (under "Required Green Lease/RLP Provisions") for more information on both required and recommended provisions.

FAR clause 52.223-2opens in new window, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, requires service and construction contractors to report their purchases of biobased products to the new reporting portal within the System for Award Management (SAM)opens in new window. You should also consider requiring contractors to submit regular reports identifying the quantity and type of all green products used or delivered during contract performance. For performance-based contracts, checking for contractor use of sustainable products should be part of the Quality Assurance Plan.

Optional Green Practices

There are many other commercial practices that will result in a more sustainable and environmentally preferable service.  Below are a few suggestions you may consider when defining performance requirements and developing evaluation criteria.  For additional details on sustainable practices and nutrition guidelines, users are encouraged to review the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operationsopens in new window.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and GSA worked collaboratively to create this document, which proposes specific food, nutrition, and sustainability guidelines to complement the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025opens in new window.  

  • Offer healthy food choices in line with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americansopens in new window.
  • Require a minimum percentage of foods be organically, locally, or documented sustainably grown (e.g., integrated pest management, pesticide free, other labeling programs).
  • Offer seasonal varieties of fruits and vegetables.
  • Where seafood options are offered, provide those procured from responsibly managed, sustainable, healthy fisheries.  Guidance on how to make sustainable seafood choices is found on the NOAA FishWatch siteopens in new window.
  • Offer Certified Organic or documented sustainably or locally produced milk and milk products.
  • Offer only Certified Organic or documented sustainably or locally produced eggs and meat (e.g., grass fed, free-range, pasture raised, grass finished, humanely raised and handled).
  • Offer coffee and tea that are Certified Organic, shade grown, and/or bird friendly.
  • Label organic, local, or documented sustainably grown items available in food service at the point of choice.  For locally grown foods, include information that identifies the farms and sustainable practices used.
  • Offer drinking water, preferably chilled tap.  Promote the use of tap water over bottled water.
  • When bottled water is necessary, require bottled water be offered in containers that minimize plastic or compostable bottles (if composting is available).
  • Implement waste management, recycling, and composting programs.  Educate customers on how to properly dispose of waste.
  • Promote and incentivize the use of reusable beverage containers and other reusable items.
  • Use reusable linens, flatware, glassware, etc.  When this is not feasible, offer compostable flatware, plates, bowls, etc. made with recycled and/or biobased content.
  • Partner and engage with a food bank donation program.
  • Utilize bulk purchasing programs in lieu of individually packaged products to include, but not limited to, beverages and condiments.
  • Offer education and marketing programs to increase employee and customer awareness of green practices.  Signage, table tents, menu notes, newsletters, and emails can help communicate this message.
  • Incorporate practices that will be used to reduce energy and water use.
  • Recycle residual fats, oils, and greases.  
  • Use Energy Star labeled refrigerators, freezers, ovens/ranges, dishwashers, griddles, and other appliances.
  • Maintain equipment in accordance with manufacturer guidelines.  For refrigerators, this includes regularly cleaning refrigerator condensers, defrosting manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers, vacuuming condenser coils, etc.
  • Don’t keep refrigerators and freezers too cold. Maintain temperature range within manufacturer guidelines.
  • Use evaporator fan controllers for medium-temperature walk-in refrigerators.
Evaluation Factors

There are many opportunities to consider environmental criteria in your evaluation of offers.  A Pass/Fail approach may be appropriate for establishing basic green product requirements or when market research shows that other sustainable practices are common in the commercial marketplace.  For example, you might require that a minimum of 25% of the offered product line be organically, locally, or documented sustainably grown – an offeror can either meet this requirement (pass) or it cannot (fail).  

In some cases, it may be appropriate to consider environmental aspects through a Best Value Tradeoff approach in lieu of, or in addition to, pass/fail criteria.  By incorporating environmental criteria into your evaluation factors, you can weigh a vendor’s ability to offer desirable sustainable practices above and beyond minimum contract requirements in relation to other factors, such as price. Several potential opportunities for incorporating environmental considerations into your evaluation factors are listed below:

  • Technical Approach and/or Sustainability Plan – Evaluate the contractor’s technical approach and plans to implement sustainable practices.  Require contractors to detail how they will use green products, minimize waste, introduce energy and water efficiency methods, green general operations, provide sustainable menu offerings, and educate customers on sustainable practices.
  • Waste Management – Evaluate how contractors intend to minimize, manage, and dispose of waste, including plans to minimize, recycle, compost, and reuse materials.
  • Past Performance – Evaluate how well the contractor performed previous projects where they have successfully implemented green cafeteria and food services, including the use of green products.
  • Previous Experience – Require contractors to demonstrate their experience and capability to provide green cafeteria and food services similar in size, scope, and complexity to the required work.
  • Staffing Plan – Give consideration to staffing plans that propose persons with green certifications or to contractors that require employees to take environmental training.

Your evaluation should also consider all costs over the life of the project, not just the initial cost. For instance, energy- and water-efficient appliances and reusable linens, flatware, and glassware may save money over time.

Where to Buy

Federal agencies may purchase a full range of food service supplies, equipment and services under GSA's Multiple Award Schedule Category 337127CFSBopens in new window.  While these contracts include basic terms and conditions, the ordering agency is responsible for inserting the appropriate green requirements and language into the solicitation.  More information on ordering through GSA Multiple Award Schedules can be found hereopens in new window.