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The Examiner U-46 News Feed

U-46 to outsource some meal delivery service


By Seth Hancock
  School District U-46 will partially outsource its meal delivery to elementary students in the 2016-17 school year as the Board of Education unanimously approved a vended meal service bid at its meeting on Monday, June 20.
  The board approved four bids concerning food services, all to be paid for out of the food and nutrition fund, but two of those items will come at a reduced cost according to the administration because of the $4.1 million expenditure approved with Preferred Meal Systems to provide packaged meals.
  In total, the district expects a $500,000 reduction a year from the outsourcing.
  “The bottom line is if we vote for this one… we save at least about $500,000 compared with doing it ourselves?” board member Jeanette Ward asked.
  Jeff King, chief Operations officer, said that was correct, and that savings comes from several different areas.
  One of those areas is in grocery costs, which the board unanimously approved an $8.2 million bid split between Gordon Food Service and Rich Chicks. King said there was a discrepancy in the original proposal presented on June 6, but after clearing that up the grocery bid will be reduced by $3.2 million because of the vended meal services.
  The other bid that will be reduced because of the vended meal services is also with Gordon Food Service for supplies and chemicals, where the board approved a $365,726 expenditure which the administration said will be reduced by $170,267.
  Labor costs are expected to drop $86,909 a year due to the outsourcing, as well as a $415,540 reduction in packaging costs.
  Ward asked: “There are certain staff that we wouldn’t need that we’d put in other positions that we already need to fill?”
  King answered: “Correct. We intentionally did not fill them in anticipation of possibly doing this so we could make that shift without incurring additional labor costs.”
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said that the condition of the equipment in the elementary school commissary is poor and that the district has been “shuttling product around the district” because of the lack of freezer space. By using the vended meal services, King said the district will save “at least” $1 million by not needing to replace equipment in the commissary, and a distribution model change will lead to savings.
  Although she voted for the outsourcing, board member Veronica Noland said she doesn’t like the move.
  “I am not a fan of the route we are going with regard to our packaged meal delivery,” Noland said. “I understand why we’re doing it. I understand that we don’t have the capacity to be providing meals that are made on site for our elementary schools.”
  Noland said she “wouldn’t want to go this route with our middle schools and high schools.”
  Regarding the grocery products bid, board member Phil Costello noted at the June 6 meeting that Gordon Food Service was the lone bidder on 13 of the 14 items and Rich Chicks gave a bid on one item and he asked why the lack of competition considering the $8.2 million price tag?
  Rickey Sparks, director of Business Services, said at the June 20 meeting, that five other companies looked at the application but did not bid, one of which said the “volume is too low.” Costello expressed skepticism since “its rich territory.”
  Also approved unanimously regarding food services was a $193,445 expenditure with Douglas Equipment to replace ovens and steamers at 23 elementary schools.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked if the ovens and steamers will be replaced at other schools. Claudie Phillips, director of Food and Nutrition Services, said a plan is in place for the upcoming years and “this is for the ovens and the steamers that we need right away” due to age and obsolescence.
  Unanimous approvals were also made on one-year contract renewals with APEX Learning ($199,100), to be paid out of the education fund, and Mesirow Financial Insurance Services ($612,186), out of the tort fund. The board approved a $54,750 bid with Quantum Learning, to be paid by the nation’s taxpayers through Title I and II grant money, as well as a $98,433 bid with Trans Chicago Truck Group, from the education fund.
  Also by unanimous vote, the board approved $9.8 million in itemized bills.

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