Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this story the Clarke Daily News incorrectly reported that the Clarke County School Board had approved the Sodexo contract in closed session. While consensus to approve the agreement was reached in closed session the formal vote to approve the contract was held in public.
The Clarke County School Board approved a food service management contract with Sodexo for the 2010/11 school year after meeting in closed session Monday evening.
Sodexo’s corporate website claims the firm as the leading provider of integrated food and facilities management services in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The $7.7 billion dollar multinational serves 6,000 clients in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and employs 120,000 people in North America.
“Sodexo is an experienced food service company dedicated to providing nutritious meals to schools across the nation,” said CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy. “A final review of the contract documents will begin immediately, with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2010.”
Over the past months, CCPS conducted a series of surveys with staff, students and parents to assess the quality of school meals and service. The surveys showed mixed results but convinced administration staff and School Board members that food service change was in the best interest of the school district.
Murphy said that the new contract will not result in the loss of jobs for existing food service staff members.
“Contracting with Sodexo will bring about a change in the management and leadership of our food service operations,” Murphy said. “All of our current food service staff will continue to be employed by the Clarke County Public Schools.”
Murphy said that cost was not the only consideration in switching to an outsourced. CCPS’s in-house food service efforts are currently operating at a deficit. The school district’s goal is to move out of the red and into the black while also investing in staff, kitchens, and the overall food service program.
“We have to manage our personnel costs and our non-employee related costs, and do so without raising meal prices,” Murphy said.
“Our primary goal in working with a food service management company such as Sodexo is to ensure that our students are eating the best and most nutritious foods possible at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this goal, and other related goals, will take time. The most immediate savings will not be in the bottom line, but rather in student participation and the overall benefit to the Division. We want to serve more meals at breakfast and more meals at lunch. We want to be able to offer ‘team’ meals for those students traveling out of town for sports and other events, as well as provide services to our staff, student, and parent organizations,” Murphy said.