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Safety First: Buying Essential Back to School Supplies in Bulk

Volume purchasing health and safety products to maximize budgets and enhance process efficiency to protect student and staff health

In the same way students are challenged by complex subject matters, school administrators are confronted with creating safe and secure learning environments on tight budgets. Both staff and students can benefit from a healthy school environment, which encourages better attendance, increased focus and performance.


While K–12 schools received billions in COVID-19 relief aid to offset the cost of cleaning supplies, masks, thermometers and other sanitation necessities, that federal financial assistance is being phased out. However, the continued buying of sanitation and safety supplies in bulk can support school administrators’ ongoing mission to protect student health.


Volume purchasing medical, safety and nutritional items enables schools to maximize budgets, enhance process efficiency and ensure they have the right supplies on hand. Here are a few ways schools can help streamline bulk buying for needs throughout the school year.


Janitorial & Protective Equipment for Staff and Students 

Janitorial staff need cleaning supplies such as paper towels, gloves and garbage bags. Ground crews require safety glasses and ear protection to safely maintain sports fields and green spaces. Teachers need sanitation supplies to help limit the spread of illnesses. And students use protective equipment for science labs, woodshop class and athletics.


Staff assigned to purchasing these varied items can easily feel overwhelmed sourcing necessities from numerous suppliers, and many teachers report purchasing soap and hand sanitizer out of their paychecks to cover supply shortfalls. 


Amazon Business streamlines the procurement process, reducing the time associated with juggling multiple vendors. And with volume discounts on more than 5 million products offered all in one place, school administrators can feel confident they are maximizing every budget dollar. “We get everything from books and office supplies to costumes for drama productions through Amazon Business,” said John Gwin, chief finance officer at Shelby County Schools. “The broad catalog means a variety of products can be found in one place, and often for the lowest price. That’s a huge benefit.”

“We get everything from books and office supplies to costumes for drama productions through Amazon Business. The broad catalog means a variety of products can be found in one place, and often for the lowest price. That’s a huge benefit.”

— John Gwin, Chief Finance Officer, Shelby County Schools

Feeding Student Needs

In addition to protective equipment and sanitation supplies, administrators must feed many of their students, particularly those who rely on the school for breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks. Skyrocketing food prices are the No. 1 challenge keeping school meal program directors up at night as they worry about budgets. After-school groups that provide students with an afternoon snack or rely on concession sales are feeling the pinch too.


The Amazon Business Education Storefront features a variety of Smart Snacks that align with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school nutrition standards and goals, making it simple to identify and order treats for students. The Storefront also offers numerous snack and beverage products to stock concession stands and vending machines. Special educator discounts ensure competitive pricing, allowing greater profits on concession sales. 


Food and beverages are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to feeding students. Food service directors rely on a broad range of cafeteria supplies such as cookware, bakeware and thermometers to prepare and safely serve students meals. There’s also the investment into commercial appliances, equipment and cafeteria tables


Amazon Business’ Request for Quote feature provides buyers a side-by-side comparison of prices from different vendors. Let’s say school administrators are looking for new tables for the elementary school lunchroom. With Request for Quote, administrators provide their specifications, such as size, quantity and table material. Sellers reply with offers that match the criteria, resulting in typical savings of 10% from traditional purchasing. 


As an approved vendor for purchasing partners such as OMNIA, Choice Partners Cooperative and PEPPM, Amazon Business helps administrators eliminate time-consuming bidding processes. “Bulk buying through Amazon Business has been a tremendous asset for our school district, allowing us to access competitive pricing on essential supplies and materials,” said Jake Alverson, director of procurement with the Green Bay Area Public School District. “This cost-effective approach has not only saved us time and effort but has also enabled us to stretch our budget further, ensuring that we can provide the best possible resources for our students and staff.”


Preparation Is the Best Medicine

Like food and safety needs, school nurses also rely on a myriad of supplies to attend to the student population. These must-haves range from tongue depressors to athletic tape and hydration kits to emergency-preparedness kits. The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized the need for school health officials to be prepared to respond to injuries and illnesses, and many schools are using their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSR) funds to further their preparedness efforts.


Buying health items in bulk from Amazon Business allows nursing staff, athletic directors and other district employees to maximize their allocated budgets. To help ensure nursing staff have supplies ready to go, Amazon offers custom lists for quick repurchasing.


Amazon Business’ reorder lists keep track of frequently purchased items and set default quantities for each item included on the reorder list, speeding up the time it takes to restock critical supplies. Lists also can be used to flag items for later or to highlight items for others in the district to purchase. 



The Bottom Line

Buying in larger quantities allows K–12 schools to negotiate better prices on all products, especially as ESSR funds are being phased out. Cost savings on necessities frees up monies to continue investing in safety and nutritional items that support safe operations of schools to ensure student success.



Originally published on K-12 Dive, click here to view.

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