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TRUMBULL COUNTY Officials to set bid plans for jail food



Published: Wed, August 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The county purchasing director also will seek bids for food for the juvenile detention center.

By PEGGY SINKOVICHand STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners are expected to approve seeking bids not only for groceries used at the county jail, a $112,000 bill so far this year, but also separate bids for milk and bread.

A contract to provide jail food has never been put out for competitive bidding.

Neither Austintown Dairy, which supplies the jail milk, nor Nickles Bakery, which supplies the bread, has contracts with the facility.

Each does more than $15,000 worth of business a year, the level at which competitive bidding is generally required by law.

With the same resolution, commissioners also are expected to direct Anthony Carson Jr., county purchasing director, to prepare to seek bids for food for the juvenile detention center.

The juvenile center uses several vendors, none of whom got the business through competitive bidding. The total annual bill for food at the juvenile detention center is about $80,000.

Anticipating vote

"I know it is going to be a 3-0 vote," said Commissioner Joseph Angelo Jr. "I don't see any controversy at all."

Commissioner Michael O'Brien has been off work ill and could not be reached. Commissioner James Tsagaris did not return calls.

Angelo said the county prosecutor advised him and Tsagaris that a food vender could not be selected based on an informal comparison of prices.

The move to put the food out to bid was suggested by Sheriff Thomas Altiere after he learned last week that Carson and Tsagaris gave Acme Steak Co. a $16,000-a-month account selling food to the jail without going through the required bidding process.

Judge Pamela Rintala, presiding judge over the juvenile detention center, said she did not believe food for her facility needed to be bid out. She said she planned to discuss the detention center's food needs with the commissioners.

"We have specific needs here that I want to make sure are met," Judge Rintala said. "We have to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables."

In October, the county jail began buying most its groceries from Acme Steak Co. after Carson and Tsagaris gave the Youngstown company a chance to beat the price of then-supplier Sysco Corp.

Acme undercut Sysco's prices on many items, typically by a few cents on the crate, said Crystal Lapinski, head of the jail's kitchen staff.

If a contract had been put out for bid, companies' price lists would be sealed until bids are opened.

Food costs from the primary vender dropped from $21,000 a month with Sysco to $16,000 a month now, but the reason has little to do with Acme, Lapinski said.

Under orders from her superiors to cut meal costs, Lapinski orders less expensive products: canned vegetables gave way to frozen ones; orange juice was replaced by drink mix and sliced turkey ham replaced burritos and chicken patties.

"If I told Sysco they had to bring the food cost down, I'm sure they would have," Lapinski said. "It was a $16,000 account, they don't want to lose that."

Commissioners also will vote to advertise for sealed bids for janitorial supplies.

A six-month contract with W.J. Service expires Sept. 18.

sinkovich@vindy.comsiff@vindy.com




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