Family Dept. urges school participation in federal food assistance program
By John McPhaul
General Services Administrator Karla Mercado on Wednesday urged all farmers on the island to participate in the bidding process being carried out by the agency to acquire agricultural products for cafeterias in more than 800 public schools.
The official in charge of government purchases noted that the Department of Education’s (DE) School Cafeterias Program must acquire fresh agricultural products such as meat, potatoes, bananas, plantains and other fruits for food services provided to the school population.
“This is the second round of bids that has been called to acquire agricultural products and create a bank of local suppliers for school cafeterias so that students consume what is from here,” Mercado said in a written statement.
“As part of the process, face-to-face meetings have been held with farmers around the island to explain the procedure and requirements of the government auctions, and thus allow those interested in offering their products for sale to familiarize themselves with the procedures.”
The deadline for receiving the proposals is May 27 at 10 a.m. at the office of the Bidding Board, located on the 12th floor of the North Tower of the Minillas Government Center in Santurce. The auction number is 22-0616-R1.
Mercado, who is also the government’s principal purchasing officer, stressed that it is essential that prior to that date, entrepreneurs and suppliers of grocery goods attend a pre-auction meeting next Tuesday, May 17 at 11 a.m. at the Pedro González Community Center in Las Piedras, in which they will receive information and guidance on the requirements and steps to follow to conduct business with the government.
The administrator indicated that attendance at such a meeting is an essential requirement for making bids before the Auction Board. Another requirement is to appear in the Single Registry of Government Bidders, or RUL by its Spanish initials. Farmers who are not yet part of this registry will be able to register during the meeting, free of charge.
Previous meetings have been held in San Germán, San Sebastián, Barranquitas and Santa Isabel.
Instructions for the May 27 auction can be found on the ASG website (www.asg.pr.gov), under Purchase Reform. Meanwhile, Family Secretary Carmen Ana González Magaz announced Wednesday that nearly 187,000 public school students from the DE received the benefit of the federal Pandemic EBT food assistance program for the 2021-2022 school year, as announced.
“The fathers, mothers or guardians of these students should visit the www.pr.gov portal and press the Pandemic EBT icon to find out if their educational center participates in the project,” the official said in a written statement. “This benefit of $8.28 per hybrid or virtual day offers help to families for the purchase of food in the more than 3,000 outlets certified by the agency.”
González Magaz noted that 197 schools can participate in this stage. Some have already submitted the information and it was validated by the Department of the Family team so that their students can request help, she said.
“The number of schools is increasing day by day, according to the directors who submit the information to us,” said Alberto Fradera, who heads the Family Socioeconomic Development Administration. “It is important that the representatives who [manage the submissions] know that, once they send us the data, we validate it and then the students can complete the process to receive the aid. It is a process that takes a few days, so I make a call to the schools that are missing so that their student population can also benefit.”
Fradera added that 20,000 students can benefit in the stage that began Wednesday.