The North Greene School District is leaving all of its options open for food service.
The North Greene School Board voted over the summer to go with a vendor for food service, ending its long-time process of self-operation across the district. In a request for proposal of bids, Organic Life LLC won the bid at just under $700,000. The contract with Organic Life was for one year.
Superintendent Mark Scott, who has two children in the district who get lunches from the food service, says he hasn’t really noticed a difference in food quality but he says students like the multiple options provided each day. When the district had a self-operational food service, students only had one option for each day.
Scott says most of the complaints about the new food service hasn’t been from students, but have come from parents: “I have had food at both schools in the district. It seems okay to me. Most of the complaints that I have received are from adults or parents – ‘Well, my kid got a brown banana.’ ‘There was mold on bread.’ Half of the time it’s not even mold on the bread, it’s a floured crust. We’ve had a lot of complaints from adults and parents, and some students; but I know that most students enjoy the options. With the food itself, I don’t know if there is a lot more made-from-scratch meals or home cooked meals compared to before, I just know that we offer a lot more variety than what we were able to before.”
Scott says the cost to the district is about the same as when the district was self-operational. According to a report by the Greene Prairie Press, Organic Life CEO Jonah Falk told the North Greene School Board that food and staffing cost increases would have cost the district nearly a quarter million dollars more to operate this year and the district is fortunate to have them as a vendor.
Scott says that the school board is keeping all the options on the table as far as the food service is concerned: “The last report I was given from the board is that they want to keep their options open, which might mean resubmitting an invitation to bid back out to everyone to bid on it again. Whoever might want to bid on being our food service could bid again, or the board could vie for going back to self-op. Has a decision been made yet? No. At the February board meeting, they will definitely have to make a decision because the RFP process is pretty extensive and there is time frames you have to meet. Our current contract would be up at the end of June with Organic Life. The board could choose to renew it or not.”
Scott says going back to self-operational wouldn’t be cost prohibitive because the district still owns all the kitchen equipment, they would just need to interview and hire staff.
According to the Greene Prairie Press report, Organic Life appears understanding of the situation if they aren’t brought back for a second year. The report also said that some North Greene School District staff members have indicated that it has been tough working with an entity from outside of the school district at times. The report did not specify what the issues and challenges were in working with the vendor during the current school year.