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Feeding the bottom line: Treatment centers seek savings on food bill

January 29, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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In these challenging economic times, some residential addiction treatment centers that offer the proverbial “three hots and a cot” are looking to make those three daily meals a little less costly.

The group State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS) is publicizing to its members the services of FoodSource Plus, an entity that negotiates with food wholesalers and distributors, in an attempt to give member treatment organizations a savings opportunity. SAAS Executive Director Becky Vaughn says nearly a dozen of the state-based provider associations under SAAS are participating in this venture, with groups in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Ohio among the participants.

Under the arrangement, interested individual provider agencies work directly with FoodSource Plus, which visits each center to examine its food service operations and determine whether it can achieve some significant savings. In general, a center that spends more than $500 a month serving meals might be an appropriate candidate for the program.

Vaughn says the program has been available to SAAS members for some time, but she thinks the current economic climate is inspiring much new interest. “One of my states that has never participated in any of our benefit programs recently contacted me and asked if I would call in to their next board meeting,” she says. “Suddenly everyone wants to know more about the benefits.”

Another business partner whose services SAAS promotes to members in a similar way is an unemployment trust that nonprofit agencies can join as an alternative to participating in their state’s unemployment insurance system.

While any arrangements that providers make with FoodSource Plus (www.foodsourceplus.com) are directly negotiated with the company, the SAAS partnership also involves a revenue-sharing agreement that brings a benefit to both the national organization and its state-based affiliate associations.

In the association world right now, “Everybody’s looking for non-dues revenue,” Vaughn says. “We’re looking for things that help both the providers and the provider associations.”