The contract for offering milk to about 30 000 school children in Guam’s public schools is drawing senatorial attention.

Sen. Larry F. Kasperbauer chairman of the committee on education of the 28th Guam Legislature has scheduled an oversight hearing on Sept. 20. While his inquiries will focus on the implementation of the “Every Child Deserves an Adequate Education Act ” he also plans to ask questions regarding the Guam Public School System’s milk-supply agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I would like to speak with the superintendent about the matter before the hearing but I am pretty sure he would be able to answer any questions I may have during the hearing ” he said.

The Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request obtained letters and documents from Foremost Foods Inc. addressed to the Guam Public School System. Foremost objected to GPSS terminating its milk supply contract based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s policy of what kind of milk can be served to students. (See “Milk distributor wants back on the public-school menu ” in the Sept. 5 edition of the Journal.).

The responsibility of providing milk to public schools is presently held by Quality Distributors and is included in a $100 million-plus contract with the Department of Defense.

George Lai president of Quality told the Journal he wanted to state that his business is not operating unlawfully or underhandedly.

Lai reiterated that his company is the prime vendor that supplies goods and commodities for the military on Guam. “This is just an agreement between the USDA and public schools and the Department of Defense under the umbrella of DSCP — Defense Supply Center of Philadelphia. Quality Distributors just happens to be the prime vendor taking care of DSCP business on the island. We are basically just told to go to work pick up the milk [cartons] store them handle them and deliver them. We don’t even get paid by DOE [the Department of Education now known as GPSS]. We get paid by DSCP.”

Lai said that although there may be other types of milk available his company provides a high value product to GPSS. “More kids are drinking it now. They’re even taking it home. It doesn’t matter if the other milk is cheaper if kids aren’t drinking it.” He echoed GPSS and said that milk consumption is up in the public schools. Lai said “DOE used to throw away thousands of cartons but now kids are drinking thousands of cartons.”

Lai said while on the surface it might appear the milk contract is a sole source agreement it is not. Quality Distributors was awarded the bid in March 2001 as a DSCP prime vendor. “The last prime vendor went out of business because they did it so poorly. So in the middle of the contract they dropped the company. It went out for bid and we bid against three or four other local companies.”

Lai said the $100 million-plus prime vendor contract was “on the street” and closed on Aug. 16. He said it was open to any company that chose to respond to the RFP. “Anybody on island can become a prime vendor. You have to put in your proposal show your performance and then if DSCP picks you that becomes your business or more or less your responsibility.

“DSCP really treats the kids like they are military customers. We supply to the carriers when they pull into port. We have to make sure they get what they want that there’s no interruption in service. During a typhoon DSCP said we have to make sure the kids get the milk. The milk was air-freighted here and DOE did not see any of that cost.”

Foremost Foods Inc. previous holder of the contract declined comment for this story. MBJ