School board chooses new lunch provider, replacing Sodexo

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School board chooses new lunch provider, replacing Sodexo

Photo credit: Hannah Spindler

Photo credit: Hannah Spindler

Photo credit: Hannah Spindler

By Michal Ruprecht and Montana Paton

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If you haven’t been to the lunchroom, take note. Things aren’t the same.  

Last May and June, the School Board hosted a bid for a new lunch provider. Christian Fenton, Deputy Superintendent for Business and Operations, said the district was unsatisfied by Sodexo’s services and quality of food.  

The Board received three bids and chose Chartwells School Dining Services to serve as the new district food service provider. Both parties agreed to a three-year contract with a yearly renewal for the remaining two years.

Although Chartwells costs the most on a per-meal basis and had the lowest bid, its service is more attractive because of its initiative to increase the number of students that purchase lunch at school and modernize the kitchen equipment in district schools.

“They definitely improved (the school lunch), and that’s made me want to buy lunch more,” junior Abby Kanakary said. “It’s nice to know that when you go to school, you’re not getting a bad meal and that you’re still getting a quality meal.”

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Photo credit: Hannah Spindler

Fenton believes that Chartwells brings better food, a larger variety of choices and overall better service.

“I think they’re trying to look at our programour program is a challengebut they’re trying to offer options that kids will like,” he said. “They want to have more kids eating and selecting their options, and they’re offering different ideas that kids can look at.”

Along with the new provider came price changes. According to Fenton, new developments in the variety and quality of foods resulted in a price increase ranging from $.25 to $.35. The district decided to set the breakfast at $1.75 and lunch at $3.

Despite the price adjustments, Kanakary thinks quality is more important than cost. She believes this change will symbiotically increase participation and further enhance the service.

“I don’t really think (the price changes will) affect me wanting to (buy lunch). I don’t think it’s that big of a change because I think that the better the quality of the food, the I’m more willing to pay for it,” Kanakary said. “I think more people are going to want to buy school lunch.”

Senior Olivia Allen buys lunch from the cafeteria r
egularly, and though she notices shortages of food and long lines (which she thinks could be solved by reopening the cave), she sees improvements in the taste and food quality.

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Photo credit: Hannah Spindler

“I like the quality of the food better. I think it tastes better, but … there’s not that much food there.” Allen said. “A lot of the food gets taken quickly, so if you get in there five minutes late, you’re not gonna get anything other than pizza basically, so that sucks.”

Chartwells plans on remedying the situation by reopening the cave with the help of new executive chef Travis Widak and a health nutritionist. In addition, the company is working on refining the kitchens, improving menu items and getting student feedback.

“The key to improving lunch is listening to our students, using fresh ingredients and scratch cooking,” Widak said via email. “We are currently developing a menu for (the cave) and hope to have it open soon.”

Kanakary thinks the addition of the cave will reduce traffic in the cafeteria and provide an alternative for students that prefer snacks.

“I think it would be really nice because it one, keeps the cafeteria less crowded and keeps the actual lunchroom and the lines a lot smaller,” Kanakary said. “And two, it’s a nice option for people who don’t want to just go and buy a full meal.”

While Chartwells is planning on creating a new menu for the cave, they also altered the lunch menu. From mac-and-cheese to fresh salads, the company thinks adding a variety of foods that operate on a four-week cycle will increase participation in the program.

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Photo credit: Hannah Spindler

Chartwells offers a free menu app called Nutrislice and a website for more information. Students can access that website at www.goo.gl/SFCosg. Both the website and the app allow customers to view the nutrition facts of each menu item.

Within that new menu, the company aims to maximize scratch cooking in order to utilize the staff’s skills and provide students with a quality product.

Chartwells staff wants to create surveys to get additional feedback from students about the problems they may still notice. Widak hopes his experience and expertise will aid in the improvement of the program so students can continue to learn and grow.

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