As all New York State school districts prepare to go out to bid for school lunch programs, which is mandated, the East Meadow School Board has enlisted a skilled consultant to guide the district through the process.
The Board of Education approved a motion to officially hire the consultant, HNB Consultants, for $9,000 to assist the district with requirements relative to school lunches, specifically in regards to vendors who will be bidding.
Superintendent Louis DeAngelo said that they believe this requires a consultant “who knows who all the players are, who knows what our needs our, knows what the market is for pricing.”
“School lunches are always an area of concern to us and we are always watching it carefully, so we think that this would be a service…that would be money well spent,” he added.
The lunch program currently operates at a loss of about $150,000, according to DeAngelo. The district staffs the program, with the director of the program contracted out to Aramark – enabling the district to use its food purchasing plan and buy food at lower prices.
Trustee Jeffrey Rosenking proposed whether the board should consider a study to examine options if they decided to change the program structure and outsource the employees to the food service company, rather than be employed by the district itself.
DeAngelo said that the consultant will look at all aspects of the program and give the district all of the options “regarding staffing and funding programs.” He noted that the district pays for the lunch program employees’ health coverage and pensions, which is a focus during the budget process.
“Where we are with the employees is this – in my view it is a moral, as well as a financial issue,” he said, adding that using employees from the food service company, who make less hourly and don’t receive health benefits, would save money, but many of the current lunch program employees have been with the district for a long time.
“It is a decision that I think the board would have to take very seriously because when you terminate these employees this way -- many of them have been here a while -- they have health coverage they were expecting that would be gone, they would have salaries they were expecting to be gone…” DeAngelo said.
“I just think the board needs to think about the moral commitment in this particular case,” he added.
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