Your Tax Dollars at Work

This is a direct communication from someone who works for NPR. Yes, it is credible, and the guy is apparently their stealth affirmative action hire (he's a conservative).

From: Communications
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 6:01 PM

From: NPR Executive Committee
Jim Elder, Dennis Haarsager, Bob Holstein, Mitch Praver, Dana Davis Rehm, Suzanne Shwetz, Andi Sporkin, Ellen Weiss, Maria Thomas

To: NPR DC Staff
Re: Food Vendor Update and Quick Survey
Date: April 8, 2008

As promised, we wanted to update you on the food vendor selection and ask final input.

First, we want to thank the nine staff members of the Food Service Committee for countless hours of personal time on behalf of us all – sourcing vendors, researching them, visiting their facilities and interviewing their representatives. We had 19 vendors to start, eight quarter-finalists, four semi-finalists and now two finalists. Joining the Committee were 50 other NPR staff who participated in blind taste tests and completed evaluation forms. This was a smart, thorough, objective and thoughtful process by everyone involved.

The Food Service Committee presented their results and recommendations to us and their top two finalists were Cuisine by Bleu, which ranked #1 overall, and MW Catering, which ranked #2 overall.

These two vendors are very different in their scope of offering and service strengths and weaknesses. What follows is information on each provided by them or researched by NPR staff, with click-throughs to more detail on menus, staff feedback, ratings comparisons and other aspects that were investigated. Pricing on menus in the links is proposed only and final prices will be subject to negotiation, as is our overall contract with the vendor.

We want to be inclusive so we are asking all DC staff to read the following and take 10 seconds to cast one confidential vote. If there is significant survey response (at minimum, 3/4 of the DC staff), the majority preference will determine our final decision-making.

Deadline for response to the survey below is Thursday, April 10, 5PM.

Vendor #1: Cuisine by Bleu
* Owned and managed by Indebleu restaurant, 707 G Street NW (opened 2003) and Cuisine de Bleu Catering (since 2007) http://www.indebleu.net/main.html They are seeking to expand their business to in-house food operations and this would be their first location. The base kitchen will be at Indebleu restaurant.
* Ranked #1 in four of the five NPR evaluation categories and #2 in the other category.
* Offering up to six hot food options daily; also espresso and smoothies
* Vendor statement: "The scope of our menu ranges from traditional fare to specialized vegetarian dishes - healthy, locally sourced and fresh. The ingredients we use are made from scratch. Nothing comes from a tub or can."
* Proposed NPR Menu <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/Cuisine%20y%20by%20Bleu.2.pdf> – breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages
* Catering Menu <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/Cuisine%20y%20by%20Bleu.3.pdf> (Vendor reports prices listed will be discounted 15-20% for NPR orders.)
Key strengths:
* Managed by professional organization with experience and good local reputation for restaurant and full-service catering business
* Broad selection of tasty food that meets all NPR requirements; significant base kitchen facility
* Wide-ranging catering menu for all purposes; guaranteed discount pricing on catering
* Proximity: kitchen is three blocks away; helpful in inclement weather, for reordering and last-minute catering
* Every Indebleu employee is provided with full health benefits and workers comp
Key weaknesses:
* Although they have successful local food operations, this is a new venture for them
* Price could be an issue although they are committed to working within our established price points
Additional Documents
* Vendor History/Overview/Kitchen Description <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/Cuisine%20y%20by%20Bleu.1.pdf>
* Comments from Blind Taste Test in which 50+ Staff Participated <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/Cuisine%20y%20by%20Bleu.pdf>

Vendor #2: MW Catering
* New food service company formed by longtime Port of Piraeus/NPR on-site staff Matina Kourkoutas, Wilmer Reyes and Oscar Amador
* They are planning to provide menu, selections, food quality comparable to Port of Piraeus. Base kitchen will be Bazzano Restaurant, Springfield VA. Cooked foods will be delivered by Wilmer; food will be received and served by Matina and Oscar. Matina will handle cash register and all financial duties
* Ranked #1 in one NPR evaluation category and #2 in the four other categories.
* Vendor statement: "MW Catering is a start-up company. The owners have an extensive history in food management services. The two owners have over 25 years’ combined experience."
* Proposed NPR Menu <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/MW%20Catering.2.pdf> – breakfast, lunch, snacks beverages
* Catering Menu <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/MW%20Catering.3.pdf>
Key strengths:
* Established customer service relationship with NPR for more than a decade; now, they would have opportunity to demonstrate their food talents and skills
* Low pricing on large portions, lots of vegetarian items
* Staff may have opportunity to run a tab
* They may be able to provide morning coffee/pastry service to 7th Street
* They will accommodate catering
Key weaknesses:
* A first-time venture for them; they have no previous experience running a company
* Proximity: transportation from Springfield during rush hour or bad weather could cause problems; questions were raised about freshness of prepared food traveling that distance
Additional Documents
* Vendor History/Overview/Kitchen Description <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/MW%20Catering.1.pdf>
* Comments from Blind Taste Test in which 50+ Staff Participated <http://intranet.npr.org/newintranet/departments/communications/About_NPR/Vendors/MW%20Catering.pdf>

Please cast your vote through the link below, considering the five criteria for a new vendor cited as "of greatest importance" by NPR staff:
* quality food
* variety of selections - including heart-healthy and vegetarian items
* efficient and professional operation
* affordable pricing
* good customer service

Click here to go to the voting page:
Deadline for response to the survey is Thursday, April 10, 5PM.

It apparently takes 59 employees, on the payroll, to pick the cart to sell basically a freaking bagel and a cup of coffee. Yes, read that again, 59 people. You had 9 people on the "Food Service Committee" and another 50 who sat around getting paid by the American taxpayer to eat a lot of free food. And don't forget they started with 19 vendors, narrowed to 8, 4, then 2. This is A LOT of free freaking food. And who in the hell knew NPR had 59 employees?

We should all call our congresscritters, or better yet, flood their survey.

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