Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy told School Board members last week that the district’s relationship with new food service provider, Sodexo of Gaithersburg, Maryland, has been a success so far and may possibly expand as Sodexo offer new service areas.
Murphy’s comments were based on an on-site review of CCPS’s food service program. According to school documents, a broad-based review team of school staff and Sodexo staff met to offer input and suggestions regarding the first 90 days of the business relationship. The meeting included discussion about expectations and the collaborative future between CCPS and Sodexo.
“We continue to be very excited about our partnership, and do consider it a partnership in all accounts” Murphy told the School Board. “As partners, we are committed to continuing to work together for the long-term health and success of the Clarke County Public Schools.”
According to the report, Sodexo and CCPS have identified a range of goals and challenges, some of which will be tackled immediately while others will be deferred for implementation during the summer break:
Healthy Vending: Sodexo is looking for a secondary vending source to improve vending machine selections for students. Sodexo’s preferred vendor, HUMAN Healthy, HUMAN stands for Helping Unite Man and Nutrition and donates 10% of proceeds back to charitable causes that fight childhood obesity and malnutrition, does not service Clarke County at this time prompting a search for an alternative provider.
Comprehensive Staff Evaluation: Sodexo plans to provide CCPS with the evaluation tool it uses for Sodexo hourly staff so that CCPS can formulate policy and procedures that meet the district’s needs and goal.
Market Catering: Sodexo will create a formal catering brochure and ordering process for use by school groups. The brochure will include information for administration concerning BBQ’s for field days, bagged lunches for field trips and student – athlete meals for away games.
Product Positioning / Marketing: Sodexo’s Marketing Resource Manager will visit CCPS during February to review opportunities for enhanced marketing opportunities throughout the program.
Sports Table – Meals for Team Travel: Options will be included in Sodexo’s catering offering so that sports teams are no longer required to stop for fast food on the way home from events.
Focus Groups with Student Government: Sodexo plans to work with principals at each school to engage students on a quarterly basis for feedback and to communicate food service offerings.
Low Balance Notification for Students: Sodexo has the capability to notify parents of low-balance student accounts through electronic mail. Phone message alert for low balances will cost CCPS an additional $2,000 if purchased.
While Sodexo hopes to offer new service variations and increase student participation, the report also highlighted existing problems that need to be addressed in order to meet current student needs. According to the report Sodexo hopes to:
Increase Breakfast Participation in All Levels: Implement service “to the students” – breakfast in the classroom, breakfast service lines at entrances as students come into school to maximize morning meal counts.
Maintain Availability of all menu items for all lunch shifts at elementary schools
Staffing: Review staff levels to maximize customer service. Continue to train and reinforce customer service training.
Improve Service Speed at Clarke County High School: Move service line to cafeteria area and review staffing needs and present plan to administration for review.
Menu Mix: Do not Serve cheeseburgers and chicken patties every day in the middle school. Sodexo will work to set a formal rotation at both middle school and high school immediately.
According to Murphy, talks are underway to extend Sodexo’s contract with Clarke County Public Schools. Murphy said that Sodexo has recently expanded its service offering to include school maintenance and CCPS is reviewing the possibility of contracting with Sodexo for school maintenance services.