The City will bid out the daily meal service for March deliveries in an effort to diversify the contractors making the City’s meals and reaping the guaranteed income from the City contract.
It was a matter that was brought to light by Councilor Gerly Adrien at the Council meeting on Monday night when it was discussed who the providers were and how they were picked. Adrien said the process was not equitable and excluded a lot of restaurants in the City who might have wanted to shift gears and scale up to provide some of the meals. At the moment the City takes delivery five days a week of 520 meals per day from Rita’s Catering and The Square Deli. City employees and other volunteers deliver the meals to mostly senior citizens and physically challenged residents.
Robert Moreschi, the Chief Procurement Officer, said on Monday that they would be willing to bid out the program again, and on Tuesday the City produced a bid document with a menu for each day in March and the potential cost.
The City published the bid this week and is hoping to get outreach to more restaurants and food providers/caterers for the March program.
Monday night, Adrien inquired about the program and Moreschi said they reached out to several other restaurants besides Square Deli and Rita’s. That included La Perla, DiBlasi’s, Eight/Ten, Bucci’s, Oliveira’s and Main Street House of Pizza.
He said he reached out to them based on what he felt was their capacity to scale up to provide so many meals. It was bid last summer, with the only interest from Rita’s and Square Deli.
Adrien said she felt every common victualler licensee in the City should have been informed and given an opportunity to bid, rather than reaching out to a select group.
She pointed out that there were no Latino restaurants in the mix, the only Haitian restaurant had been closed for multiple years and there were no Asian restaurants on the list either. She said that is part of making sure equity is achieved in City business.
“We should be asking every single business,” she said.
“As diverse as Everett is, we need to look at things through an equity lens on all things. I will bring this up every time. Sadly, we’re missing that equity lens,” she continued.
Beyond the equity part of the discussion, Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he would like to keep the food program going beyond the pandemic. He said it has been a treasured amenity and a welcome face for a lot of seniors.
Councilor Rosa DiFlorio agreed with that as well.
“Many of these seniors enjoy getting these deliveries every day and have come to look forward to the people dropping off their meal – and talk with them,” he said. “It’s a big part of their day. I really hope this program can continue beyond the pandemic. It’s very valuable.”