Spotsylvania chooses new school meal provider
Spotsylvania County Schools will change its food service provider for the next school year, choosing not to renew a contract with longtime provider Chartwells and opting to instead sign with Sodexo Inc.
The new contract, effective July 1, will make Sodexo the food provider for all 29 schools and was approved unanimously by the School Board.
Don Upperco, executive director of operations for Spotsylvania Schools, said Sodexo impressed the food services subcommittee that was charged with researching prospective providers.
Sodexo was also the lowest bidder of the three companies that submitted proposals. The low bid was $545,328 per year.
Chartwells’ proposal came in at $563,000, and Aramark submitted a $700,223 proposal.
Sodexo, one of the nation’s largest food-service companies, also provides dining services for the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.
Chartwells has held the food services contract in Spotsylvania schools since 2003 and currently has 120 employees there. An additional 70 are contracted through the school division to work in food services. Those 70, who were originally hired by the school division, will have no change to their job status.
The Chartwells employees, however, will need to re-apply and interview with Sodexo, Upperco said.
He said the school division held a meeting with food service employees to inform them of the changes and handed out Sodexo applications.
“Employees were concerned,” he said, “both from Chartwells and the division. So we met them and provided the information they needed to know about their jobs.”
School Board Chairwoman Amanda Blalock said she has had several messages from concerned employees.
She said she expects that most will retain their jobs, but is not sure how much their benefits will change under Sodexo.
Sodexo spokesman Greg Yost said, “An agreement between Sodexo and the county has not been finalized, so it would be premature to provide details about our proposed services.”
Spotsylvania Schools recently changed its meal-charging procedures as well.
Before April 2012, students accrued a debt of more than $105,000 by charging food items.
The policy change was prompted by concerns that debts to student meal accounts had risen so high that the division risked dipping into its instructional funds to cover them.
Previously, students in the elementary and middle schools were allowed to charge an unlimited number of breakfasts and lunches after reaching a zero balance on their accounts. High school students could charge one lunch.
“We pulled back allowing middle schoolers and high schoolers to charge over two lunches,” Blalock said.
Once food has been charged, a notice goes out to parents. Blalock said she thinks a lot of the debt came from parents being unaware that their child had charged lunch at all.
Blalock said nearly all of the debt has been paid.
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