or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › General Discussions › The Late Night Cafe (off-topic) › Question about the legality of denying to sell food to a youth competitive sportc group and 501c3.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Question about the legality of denying to sell food to a youth competitive sportc group and 501c3.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have been engaged in putting together a Pasta Dinner Fundraiser for my daughters swim team.

 

The short version is they are a 501c3 youth competitive swimming organization. We are sanctioned by USA Swimming and have been around for almost 55 years. We have sent swimmers or I should say A swimmer as in 1, to the Olympics....Whitney Hedgepeth. She swam in the 1988 games and returned to the 1996 games where she won 2 Silver and 1 Gold Olympic medals. The program has been being Rebuilt for the last 5 years so our ranks are small.....about 75 swimmers. This is in comparison to two other teams that have over 700 swimmers each. Our team is the only option with-in 30-40 miles for some of our families to travel too...so there is an importance to keeping it around. It's not reasonable for kids to have to spend hours in the car and have no time to do homework, assignments or even be a kid so why drive that 50 miles one way practice for 2 hours and then have to drive home. School, bed and practice is no life nor is it quality family living or something that is very important to each and every one of our Organization's Members

 

Anyhow I have been trying to use some of my old restaurant contacts in the food service industry to solicit donations or cost assistance for food and supplies. This has been a horribly tedious effort and has only yielded one donation of food and that was from Barilla Pasta. They donated 100 or the 300lbs of past we will be needing.

 

I have received some cost help from US Foodservice but not much more than a take it or leave it approach. This is fine and while I would have liked to give all of the purchase to one vendor as well as been graciously provided a couple donations or better prices, I will now divide it amongst the best prices with no donations. This has me buying from Sam's, US Foods and Sysco. I have hit local Groceries and the like (wal-mart,Martin's, Target, Kroger, etc...) and so far, Martin's is the only to come through with a 50.00 gift card and a bundle of 300 paper bags for to-go food we sell. Kroger's effort or lack there of was even more insulting that the topic.

 

My issue is with the three organizations that have refused outright to sell to us. This would be Pepsi, Coca Cola and of course Sysco.

 

These three companies have outright refused or implied they would refuse to sell to us. Coca Cola will not sell to any company that does not have a fixed address. We have a P.O. Box but because of our Club size, we cannot afford a multimillion dollar swim facility to take deliveries. I did have some of our members offer to use their business addresses but Coke said if it was  not where the product was going to be sold they would not deliver either.

Pepsi based their denial on the fact that it was a one-time purchase. I tried to explain that this was our first attempt with this type of Fund Raiser as an Organization but if it was a success it could be one of many. They explained that if we could not accept a weekly delivery and allow our sales man to build a relationship, we will not sell. Pepsi does have a Donation process and one that I am actively pursuing but it has been a month with no decision. I believe we didn't even qualify for that. So.......on to Sysco.

 

This one really gets me. Sorry for beating the dead horse BDL but I saw it move last night and that means it ain't dead yet!

 

Sysco sent me a Rep. We talked about things, gave him my specs, he provided a purchase application and we went from there. We filled out the Application and I went to submit it this week and this is what I was told. By the way we did not apply for credit, something that as a 501c3 we did not want. We just wanted the ability to purchase food at a wholesale cost so we could maximize of donations for events like the Pasta Dinner. We also found ourselves doing a 1000 ticket meal because of the costs and what our Donation Goal is....that would be 7000.00 for this event. Mind you this is our quarterly operating budget too and if we fall short, something we are still in the hole from last season, we are in trouble!

 

Anyhow, I was told that in order to buy from Sysco we needed to file for credit even thought we are C.O.D. I even offered to pay for the order. I have to file for credit even if I provided cash to the driver as payment.

 

Now for the fun part and for any of you Lawyers out there........

 

How can any business require you to have credit in order to purchase from them and then can only purchase C.O.D.???? If I have to qualify for credit every time I went to the grocery store, we'd be dead from starvation. So....because we have to qualify for credit as a small youth organization and 501c3 just to purchase food for our Fundraiser, we will be financially starved as an Organization. Just try and feed 1000 people on what it costs by buying everything from a store like Kroger, Martin's, Ralph's, Basha's or whatever.  

 

It is my public opinion that these companies are doing nothing short of Financial Discrimination. Hey BDL....now I'm not thinking like a Chef huh?!?! By the way....luv ya like a brother big guy....it's to bad I hate my family.

post #2 of 9

You'll have to consult with someone in Virginia. 

 

In America we generally have "freedom to contract" which also includes freedom not to contract.  The freedom isn't quite unlimited, there are a few invidious classifications on which businesses are either forbidden to discriminate, like race and gender; or, discrimination is limited, like age and handicap. 

 

Here, in California, the "Brown Act" also includes some other groups subject to discrimination and otherwise tends to be stricter and have more and sharper teeth than the Federal statutes.

 

But as far as I know swim teams and charities are not protected classes; and there's no law which compels a wholesale business to sell to customers who do not meet their credit or address criteria.  Not even here. 

 

I'm rather surprised you can't find a qualified business to front the purchases for you.  But I guess if you knew people with accounts you'd have already gone that route. 

 

BDL

post #3 of 9

Legalities aside, keep in mind that distributors are bureacracies, and the forms and procedures are what's important.

 

What's probably happening is that their system is such that you have to file a credit application, so they can deny it, and then put you on a COD basis.

 

Hey, nobody promised the ways of pretty girls, butterflies, and accountants would be scrutible.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Working on the Virgina thing here. Know of a couple of folks but not personally....through other friends. I'm handicapped and the salesman told me I'd be denied???????

 

 

KY, after we filled out the application, the salesman told me flat out we have to qualify for credit or Sysco will not seel. They asked for bank records. He explained that they need to see if we could actually pay for the food. They would not sell unless our credit covered the cost of the first delivery. It's a a huge Charlie Foxtrot with this. I know I'm being tooled with and it's making  me more and more pizzed off. The salesman was specific and direct when he said that we would not be give credit terms even with the credit application and without being able to qualify for credit they would not deliver even on C.O.D. terms. His final words were to find someone to piggy back the order with. I did that already even before we met and that is working with one place.

 

The whole idea was to set up an account so the group could do these fundraiser at a moments notice. It's one now but these folks in the Org. catch on very quick. They all do stuff with this and one other swim league ...a local only summer league. Anyhow if i can get the help coming the way it is  (labor wise I mean) as the Fundraising Chairman  I can direct from my fricken chair and we'd not have to worry.

Thanks for chimming in none the less to the both of you. 

 

I really don't know how far I want to push this. My mind isn't made up. But somewhere along the way anyone that has to deal with things like this from purveyors like Sysco.....well one is a single voice but from what I understand this happens daily and with that many voices.....someone is going to have to start listening.  

post #5 of 9

You may be handicapped, but that has zero to do with whether they will sell to you.  Restaurant Depot may sell to you, if you have one in your area.  You're not "worth" the salesman's time.  A one-time order just isn't going to make a lot of commission, no matter how hard he tries to stick it to you.  You don't meet their criteria, plain and simple.  Even if you did meet their criteria, they still don't have to sell to you.  You seem to believe you should get some special treatment.  How is your fundraiser any different that me walking in off the street and wanting to buy from them?  Other than being a 501c, it's not.  Heck, Restaurant Depot canceled my "membership" for not purchasing enough or frequently enough.  Fair is fair though, I was "hiding" behind a business in order to buy for personal use on a very rare basis (and paying sales tax on everything). 

 

FWIW, a fair amount of smaller businesses around here actually buy their stuff from Sam's and Costco.  They can get the stuff cheaper that way, since they're low volume.

 

You can try other distributors such as usfoods, etc.  Restaurant Depot has stores in Alexandria and Va Beach if that helps any.

post #6 of 9

all of what was said above.

 

Not knowing stores in the USA, I can't really comment.  But through our sporting club associations we have needed to do fund raising bbqs & events.  What we found most useful were the smaller, more local, "John & Jenny" type stores in the neighbourhood.  They tended to be the ones more forthcoming with donated goods without the stress of all this legalese and rigmarole (i.e. Crapola).

 

As for having no street address for delivery, If you find someone agreeable for donations/ discounts etc, you could if willing give a home address of one of your crew if they are happy with it.  If not - organise a time to collect it from them.  Have a letter drafted for the person who will be picking up the delivery outlining what the deal is.  Say. "I spoke with Mr ABC on (date) to collect the donated good for (your corporation/sports club etc name of person who approved/promised the donation) and have (state your name/agent)'s authority to collect it as prearranged.  Something like that. Imclude a phone number and email etc that they can get you on.

 

I really wish you luck with it, have been involved in similar things and are trying to fund our daughter's university trip O/S as an ambassador in Costa Rica.  It is not easy.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

You may be handicapped, but that has zero to do with whether they will sell to you.  Restaurant Depot may sell to you, if you have one in your area.  You're not "worth" the salesman's time.  A one-time order just isn't going to make a lot of commission, no matter how hard he tries to stick it to you.  You don't meet their criteria, plain and simple.  Even if you did meet their criteria, they still don't have to sell to you.  You seem to believe you should get some special treatment.  How is your fundraiser any different that me walking in off the street and wanting to buy from them?  Other than being a 501c, it's not.  Heck, Restaurant Depot canceled my "membership" for not purchasing enough or frequently enough.  Fair is fair though, I was "hiding" behind a business in order to buy for personal use on a very rare basis (and paying sales tax on everything). 

 

FWIW, a fair amount of smaller businesses around here actually buy their stuff from Sam's and Costco.  They can get the stuff cheaper that way, since they're low volume.

 

You can try other distributors such as usfoods, etc.  Restaurant Depot has stores in Alexandria and Va Beach if that helps any.



Hey BDL,.......this would be why I .........

 

ya know gobbly  I wasn't saying they should donate or even sell because I am disabled. It was a smart azz comment based off of what BDL commented on. I don't nor have I ever used my "handicap" as a way of soliciting donations. as a simple statement of fact, yes but nothing more. That said.........as part of a group of people that is donating hundreds of hours of time and effort to ensure a Youth group can function, it really goes without saying to rely on the generosity of others.What I'm talking about doing is spending $5000+ on food to feed 1000+ people. More than a good deal of restaurants in the area buy or serve in a week.  If you were a Chef you would understand that to do this and some of the things the way I am, I need the types of product available from these distributors so it is a vital need to have a company sell to me. This is one of what we would hope to be a few of these things a year and....ya know....I'm just not going to waste anymore breath here. I have been to Costco to get prices and the same with Sam's. When I first posted about help with an order, I would have driven to Virginia Beach and Restaurant Depot but then we have to pay a fee. Not a single member of our organization has one or is willing and that is no longer an option.

 

Either you understand or you don't. You are allowed your take on things. It's not saying we expect something but then again those that can should and with what Sysco and the others make a year they certainly can. But with all the whining about lack of sales and the main reason for the lack of donations, to outright refuse the sale of $5,000.00 dollars worth of product should be worth a competent sales persons time. But it's the fact that inorder to purchase we first have to qualify for credit we don't want or need. We want to pay COD  but if we can't get credit they won't sell to us. That's the issue and what I do believe is against the law.  That's all I'll say on that. You're not going to drag me any further into a discussion about the "systems" of business. I didn't arrive on this mornings turnip truck. The fact that you question why it in the fashion you do is why I am having trouble. There is simply no understanding of generosity in anyone I have dealt with locally.

 

By the way....I'm not personally angry with you....I don't know you from Adam. What I am angry about is there is no room for common sense in any of the people I have been dealing with. 

 

Hey DC, I mentioned the address thing above. We have viable options but Sysco will not sell to us the restaurant we use has to purchase. This is where it gets stickey for everone and something I asked for in another post. But we have two options and one doesn't use Sysco. Pepsi and Coke will not deliver to any address unless that is an operating food business and that is where the product will be sold. In other words, our organization cannot set up a business using another address and they will not del;iver products to lets say....All Seasons Pest Control


Edited by oldschool1982 - 10/10/10 at 3:55pm
post #8 of 9

I'm surprised Restaurant Depot requires a fee.  I hadn't heard of that before.  My membership was free. 

 

I have a personal issue with the number of lawsuits that are brought in this country and the number of seemingly absurd ones that win.  I especially hate "class action" lawsuits where the only people who make money are the attorneys, often for some trivial issue.  Therefore, I tend to get ruffled when I see words like "legality", "denying", and "handicap". 

 

The fact that you were a chef, would lead one to believe you know how to place an order.  However, I'm sure you can understand what a complete pain it would be for some guy off the street to prepare a food order and the amount of help that would be required from the sales rep.  These guys have lots of customers to visit each week and can't spend several hours (or days) answering basic questions.  When such a group does one or two fundraisers per year, the knowledge they have from the last order is probably gone by the time the next order is needed.  I can certainly understand why food service companies would take this stance.  I can also understand why you don't like that stance.  It's when words regarding legality and "discrimination" are used that it no longer seems like a case of discussing the points, but rather someone looking for a payday.  When you start asking for legal opinions on the matter, it just reinforces my concerns. 

 

I do believe that i have been required to fill out a credit app both times I've signed up for food delivery, even though I made it clear from the start that I wanted COD terms only.  I filled out their forms, and went about paying on COD arrangements.  I believe it may have to do with not wanting to make their drivers be the bouncers.  Normally, the delivery driver comes in with the food order before he ever steps foot inside.  Now you have possession of the food and then he's stuck asking for money. 

 

However, for a simple pasta dinner, I'm not sure what it is that you need the services of a food services company for.  You may have more packaging to deal with than you like, but noodles, sauce/tomato products, spices, and meat are readily available at Costco and Sam's.  Perhaps you're planning a bigger and better "spaghetti dinner fundraiser" than we have around here, but in my neck of the woods, garlic bread is considered "going above and beyond" for a fundraiser. 

 

post #9 of 9

Just came across this thread.  Not sure if it's still active or not, but I thought I'd throw my $.02 in...

 

In the IT world there are sights like TechSoup.com that deal exclusively with 501c3 organizations for software and hardware purchases.  There are also several purchasing consortiums that schools can join, some specialize in IT products and services, some are much more general and cover food service and trash/recycling contracts, etc.  All this has me thinking that maybe there is some 501c3 buying group in your area, and if not, what about partnering with a local school district?  If any of the schools have a culinary program, they would have the accounts and delivery address needed.  I'm sure they'd be glad to help in any way they could, especially if all they are doing is facilitating an order that doesn't hit their typically strained budgets.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › General Discussions › The Late Night Cafe (off-topic) › Question about the legality of denying to sell food to a youth competitive sportc group and 501c3.