(USDA Website)

CASPER, Wyo. — U.S. Foods was awarded the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program bid for FFVP products in Natrona County School District at $241,861.80. Two companies entered bids for the contract.

The bid that was not accepted was from Equality State Farms for $247,954.80. Matt Walker from Gillette attended the meeting to speak on Equality State Farms’ behalf.

“Although the recommendation did not support my bid,” said Walker, “I would like to use these kinds of awards to further my agenda of growing this business inside of this state, making sure I’m focused on Wyoming first.”

Equality State Farms is ever-changing and growing to meet the needs of the community and the surrounding area, according to the Equality State Farms website. What began as an urban farming venture occupying various plots of land around Gillette has turned into a large-scale food distribution operation; supplying schools, restaurants, independent grocers and more with quality foods from its main distribution center south of town and its receiving center in Wheatland.

Although Walker’s bid was close to U.S. Foods, this contract is funded with federal dollars, so any Wyoming first clauses that might allow preference to go to a locally owned company would not apply to this contract, according to Matt Flett, CFO of NCSD.

The FFVP is a federally assisted program providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to children at eligible elementary schools during the school day. The goal of the FFVP is to introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables, to include new and different varieties and to increase overall acceptance and consumption of fresh, unprocessed produce among children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.