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Board of Ed Hires School Lunch Consultant

HNB Consults will be brought in to assist with requirements.

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.

Do you think this was a necessary hire? Tell us in the comments.

Amanda February 08, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Maybe they can get a school lunch program that actually makes sense! Computerized system where parents can add money to their childs account from home/work, be able to look up balances. Right now we don't know our kids need lunch money added to their accounts until they come home and say they weren't allowed to buy a snack because they have no money. It's crazy! I would call the Superintendents office but we all know how that turns out.
Jon L. February 09, 2012 at 01:21 PM
You mean you don't get a return phone call from the Superintendent? You always get turfed to someone like Buffalo Bob Gorman? That never happens in East Meadow!
Rob February 09, 2012 at 02:08 PM
@Amanda - That computerized system is actually an excellent idea. In the district where I live we have a similar system that allows parents to check grades, attendance and schedules online. So adding in a payment plan would seem relatively simple. The problem with outsourcing the program is more than just finances or ethics. It becomes an issue of safety and security. I have worked in schools for 23 years and have some degree of loyalty to my coworkers and administration, however my first loyalty is to the children. If you bring in a company to run and staff a program, they have full control so they are going to try and turn a profit. To do that they will need the cheapest food and the cheapest labor. The district will lose control of who is being employed. As it stands now, each and every employee in the district has their fingerprints on file and a background check was performed when they were hired. We know exactly who they are and where they live. If you outsource to a company, you will lose that. Your new kitchen staff could be ex-convicts, illegal immigrants or worse. I know the people on the Board of Ed and the Administration of East Meadow are also taking this into consideration. I attend the monthly meetings and I see first hand how the children are always put first before the politics. They may not address every single "want" of the individual, but they do an excellent job of meeting the "needs" of the whole.
jack February 12, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Their solution is to hire their own School Lunch Director that works for the district not for the company that is providing the service, which is a conflict of interest. That admistrator or lunch director is to be the watchdog over program. This ensures the school is not being taken advantage of by the service provider.
Rob February 16, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Originally there was a Lunch Director in the district. But the program was still operating at a loss. I think the idea of outsourcing the position was to insure that any loss would be absorbed by the company rather than our tax payers. When the District insisted on keeping the current staff, I am sure it was to avoid the things that I have previously stated. There is no perfect answer for this situation. If they reinstitute the Lunch Director title, it will be met with opposition from some because it's another Administrative salary burden. If they outsource the whole program they have no control over what your children eat or who is serving/preparing it. The district has very competent leadership and I am sure they will be able to maximize efficiency while maintaining a reasonable operating cost in the program.
Jon L. February 16, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Rob- "competent leadership"? Really? Very competent front line personnel doing the job, leadership I have to disagree. I can't see a way for the program to not operate at a loss, if it was making money the parents would go crazy.
Rob February 16, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Leaders choose the front lines, LOL. I do thank you though on behalf of the front liners. It would be really great if they could put Amanda's suggestion in place. The only reason I could see for not doing it is the possible liability if the system was hacked and the peoples credit info was stolen. At any rate, I am very proud of this community everytime they take an active interest in their district and childen. You all should be proud that you have such a successful community and district in the midst of what everyone else is perceiving as a huge finacial crisis.
Jon L. February 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM
The leaders we currently have did not choose the majority front line personnel that are in place now. Some of them have been there since I was in attendance over 30 years ago. See my response in the other thread about my opinion of the current leadership and why I think that this District is unable to attract any talent from outside the system (as evidenced by our last failed Superintendent search), There is a plague in this District and it is spreading, so much that I am considering sending my kids to private school for secondary schooling. As a lifelong advocate of public education that kills me.
Chris Lanzafame August 09, 2013 at 11:40 AM
FIRED KITCHEN COOKS FROM THE COMMUNITYTHAT LIVE HERE JUST GOT UNDERMINED. HOW CAN U LOSE MONEY ON A SALARY AND PUT IT OUT TO BID A LOSING DEAL. THATS NOT SUPOSE TO MAKE MONEY. INDIVIDUALS THAT LOST MEDICAL AND SALARY .NOT ONLY THAT THE KIDS AND PARENTS HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO AN OUTSIDE COMPANY ON FOOD AND THEY HAVE TO MAKE A PROFIT.AND SOMEBODY IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. IT SOUND LIKE DIRTY DEAL NOT TO SAY HIRING PEOPLE NOT FROM THE COMMUNITY THAT DONT CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN OR THE SCHOOL. 20-30 YEARS OF WORK WITH NO REMORSE FROM THE SCHOOL BOARD

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