A group purchasing organization (GPO) is a platform that allows a business to join a group of other buyers who are interested in the same products and services. When you join a GPO — which can be especially helpful for camps and other out-of-school-time programs tasked with ordering bulk quantities of food for participants and staff — your camp will benefit from the collective purchasing power of the whole group and save money through the GPO’s vendor pricing agreements.

Some advantages to joining a GPO include:

  • Savings in time and money. You may be able to find discounts on food orders on your own, but you’ll spend considerable time researching to find modest discounts on some items. A GPO can leverage the combined purchasing power of all its members to negotiate better prices, generally representing an annual cost savings of 10 to 20 percent.
  • Free membership. Many GPOs offer membership at no cost.
  • Continued relationships with vendors. You still get to order your food and other products directly from vendors, so you can maintain or build relationships with suppliers and contact them directly if an issue with an order arises.
  • Consistent quality. Your GPO will vet suppliers to ensure their members are receiving quality goods and service.

"Foodservice is the largest purchase category for most camps and presents the largest potential savings opportunity," says Travis Claypool of GPO Trinity/HPSI. "While the amount saved is unique to every organization, it is usually substantial."

Claypool says, if you’re still wondering whether membership in a GPO is really worthwhile, you can "request a cost comparison and savings opportunity analysis."

For more information on Trinity/HPSI, one of the largest national purchasing groups in the US (and an official ACA partner), or to apply for membership, visit the Trinity/HPSI website.