Going into the 2022 camp season, administrators across the country have become acutely aware of the rising cost of food and are trying to anticipate the impact these higher prices will have on their summer food programs.

Consumers have seen at-home food prices soar over the last 12 months, paying 6.5 percent more for food than they were a year ago. The rising costs have undoubtedly impacted the foodservice industry as well, with restaurants having to increase menu prices while combating a higher cost of labor and staff shortages.

What types of challenges will this environment create for camps this year? Will the budget have to shift away from the number or types of activities offered to cover the rising cost of food? Will programs have to decrease the number of staffers they hire this summer or limit the number of campers they accept into the program altogether?

Get Help Combating Rising Food Costs

Luckily, camps have the option of joining food cost-reduction programs offered by group purchasing organizations to save money and combat the rising costs of their summer food programs.

A group purchasing organization, or GPO, is a platform that leverages the collective buying power of its members to obtain volume discounts from suppliers and retailers. Any type of business, including summer camps and youth programs, can join a GPO to take advantage of the “strength in numbers” concept when purchasing the goods and services it needs to function.

A GPO partner can help secure the best prices on everything from facilities maintenance and pest control to safety supplies, COVID-19 testing materials, and more — including any and all food purchases. And when a substantial portion of spend is dedicated to feeding campers and staff, utilizing a GPO’s services presents an opportunity to see significant savings on those items.

In addition to joining a GPO, another option for camps is to outsource their food program to a food service management company. Staff shortages and labor costs could be a very real concern going into the summer camp season so outsourcing your food operations to a reliable third party is a valuable resource available in the camp space. Some GPOs also have existing relationships established with various management companies and can assist camp administrators with finding the right fit.

Benefits of Bringing in an Expert Partner to Manage Food Costs

This summer, there is no reason for camp administrators to be navigating the uncertainty surrounding rising food costs alone. There are several benefits to bringing in an expert partner to help manage these costs so you can focus on what’s most important — the youth you serve and the staff you entrust to make their camp experiences memorable.

Cost savings
Cost savings is undoubtedly important this season, and the savings you’ll see by partnering with a foodservice GPO is a definite and immediate perk. The right GPO partner will have a food cost reduction program lined with substantial contracts from the best suppliers, offering prices you might not be able to access otherwise. Upon joining a food program, members typically see an average savings of 22% from suppliers like US Foods and Sysco.

Speed to savings
Because GPO partners already have existing contracts in place, it’s easy for camps like yours to get connected to savings quickly, meaning there is still time to reduce your costs ahead of the upcoming camp season. The money you save can be reallocated back into your youth programs, giving you the chance to create the camp experience you desire.

Dedicated resources for customer service issues
Any program you join should help alleviate your concerns and provide resources that help reach your goals. However, not all foodservice GPOs offer a dedicated team for customer service-related issues so before joining, be sure to understand how much support they’re willing to provide. Look for a GPO that is upfront with contact information, offers an easy way to work through supply chain issues, and can solve day-to-day problems that may arise in your camp’s kitchen quickly.

Free membership
Next to cost savings, the biggest perk of joining a food cost reduction program might be that most foodservice GPOs offer free membership. Any camp or youth program can capitalize on the GPO’s buying power to save money and will benefit from the extra support they provide without having to pay membership fees, commit to certain purchasing volumes or become locked into certain contracts.

Save Money on Food Costs

The current conditions surrounding the cost of food is stressful but camps and youth programs don’t need to carry the burden alone. There are resources and programs available that can help offset the rising food prices while still offering quality, nutritious items to your campers and staff. Join a food cost reduction program or outsource to a food service management company (or take advantage of both!) ahead of this year’s camp season to save money and make it the best one yet.

This blog was sponsored by Culinary Consultants Purchasing Alliance. With over 25 years of experience, Culinary Consultants Purchasing Alliance (CCPA) is committed to developing relationships with food distributors to bring our members significant savings and service. CCPA takes the guesswork out of pricing models and food distribution, and gives our members the peace of mind knowing that their food programs are operating as efficiently as possible. To learn more, visit www.culinaryconsultants.com.

Periodically, the American Camp Association (ACA) makes timely and relevant information about products and services available to its members so they can make informed decisions for their camps. However, the ACA does not endorse products, services, or companies.