On June 29, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed Public Law 12-1101 (House Bill 4813) into law, amending Section 10-20.21 of the Illinois School Code, which generally requires that contracts subject to the competitive bidding process be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, but also provides a list of contracts exempt from award to the lowest responsible bidder. Now added to this list of exemptions under Public Law 12-1101 are certain food service contracts. The new law took effect immediately.
To qualify for the exemption, the school district must make a good faith effort to favor contracts that:
- Provide foods that promote the health and well-being of students;
- Comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards for school meals;
- Promote the production of prepared foods from scratch and minimally processed;
- Prioritize local products;
- Give preference to food suppliers who use growers who adopt hormone and pest management practices recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture;
- Give preference to food suppliers who value animal welfare; and
- Increase opportunities for businesses owned and operated by minorities, women or people with disabilities.
To assess the above factors, school districts should require suppliers of food products to submit data, including the name and address of each supplier, distributor, processor, and producer involved in providing the products that the bidder provides at the time of the offer.
*Liz Beckera thirdLaw student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is a Loyola Education Practicum student at Franczek PC The Practicum, part of Loyola’s Education Law program, was created to provide law students with hands-on experience in education law firms and organizations. Students receive academic credit for their internship experience.