How to review your catering services contract
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How to review your catering services contract

20 July 2022 By The YPO Team

Catering food on a long table

We believe that lunchtime is integral to the learning day; it provides a nutritious meal and promotes good health in and outside the classroom. Our suppliers are passionate about providing fresh and wholesome meals with a focus on taste while keeping value for money in mind.

We understand that setting up a catering service for your school or trust is a top priority, but we also know that it can be complicated if you've never done it before. We've put together a few handy tips and best practices for you to consider when putting a contract in place and choosing the right supplier.



  • Give yourself plenty of time when writing your specification:
  • Before advertising the opportunity, allow yourself enough time to write the specification and to think about your award criteria questions.
  • Once advertised, allow suppliers sufficient time to complete and upload their submissions.
  • Once awarded, allow enough time to implement your contract. (This is when your new contract is officially live) for catering services that require TUPE (The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006) allow at least two months.



Take some time to think about what you need from your catering service, an excellent place to start is by looking at your current catering service. Make sure you include everything you require within your specification.

Consider the following:

  • Pupil and staff numbers (including Free School Meals)
  • Kitchen and catering facilities
  • School opening hours and service delivery times
  • Department for Education Food School Standards
  • Skilled and appropriately trained dieticians and chefs
  • Staff safeguarding check, e.g. Enhanced DBS
  • Increase uptake of school meals
  • Innovative and healthy menus
  • Special dietary requirements
  • Pre-ordering and online payment systems
  • Standards to comply with
  • Cleaning requirements


Award Criteria

Include award criteria relevant to your specification and weight your questions according to the ones most important to you.


  • Method statements on standards
  • Mobilisation of the contract
  • Safety of staff and students
  • References

Your award criteria should add up to 100%, and we recommend including 20% for added value when using the Catering Services DPS. With regards to added value, you can ask suppliers what can they bring to your contract and score their responses as part of your evaluation.

Some examples could include:

  • Delivering classroom workshops
  • Providing educational cookery shows
  • Themed food days
  • Promotions
  • Parents eat free
  • Herb gardens on site
  • Competitions

Teaching children about where the food on their plates comes from can help promote a healthy relationship with food and start to tackle childhood obesity early on.


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Include KPIs which allow you to manage your contract effectively.


  • Audits
  • Review Meetings
  • Cleaning standards
  • Billing


How can YPO help you?

Our 882 Catering Services DPS (Dynamic Purchasing System) is a legally compliant solution for you to choose from when putting your contracts in place that gives you access to a group of pre-approved suppliers. But what if you already have a catering contract in place and wish to include your existing supplier in the renewal process? No problem, as this solution is a DPS, our Education Procurement Team can work with your current supplier to guide them on how to apply to become an approved supplier, and they can join the contract at any time (not just at the end of the contract term), as long as they meet our requirements.


How else can our Education Procurement Team help?

When using our solutions, the education procurement team can help you as much or as little as you like and support you with running a further competition free of charge. Here's an example of some of the support we can offer:

  • Further competition template and documents
  • Example specifications and questions
  • Advertising and managing your further competition through our e-tendering portal
  • Evaluation templates and notification letters
  • Notifying suppliers of the outcome
  • Contract award
Categories: Education , Food , Frameworks

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