ECS to discuss possibility of privatized lunch services

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Encouraging student participation is the name of the game for the Elizabethton City Schools System.
Following an eye-opening student survey performed by Board of Education Student Liaison Cory Fitzsimmons, ECS staff are looking at the possibility of contracting food services with a private company for the schools within the city.
“Our goal is to increase child nutrition and to focus on making healthy choices and lifestyles,” ECS Director of Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour said. “We feel that considering the food we’re serving kids is an important part of that.”
During March’s BOE meeting, Fitzsimmons gave officials a feedback on a survey performed on students who didn’t eat lunch at the school, which showed a significant portion deciding to steer clear from current options or opting to pack their own lunch.
Bekah Price, ECS public relations coordinator, added the school started considering the initiative roughly a year ago but recently took a visit to Greene County Schools to see how the operation is conducted by using a contracted company. Greene County Schools are just one of three schools in the state that have a food service provider. While Northeast Tennessee system uses Chartwells, the other two systems (Germantown and Oak Ridge) use Aramark.
ECS staff were able to take in a great deal of information during the trip, according to Price. Greene County Director of Schools David McLain added that student participation has increased since using a contracted food provider. The system also was able to turn around a deficit in the nutrition department by making a profit of funds to go back into the nutrition program thanks to the service of Chartwells.
“We’re certainly putting out a better product for the kids, the food quality is definitely better,” he said. “There have been a lot of other additions as well. We’ve increased participation and we’re feeding kids better than ever before.”
As the school systems go over the possibility of using a contract service, Dr. Gardenhour added that cafeteria staff could work on the ECS payroll of the food service company. Based on their personnel evaluation, according to the school system, employees would continue to hold that job until they retired.
“Our goal is to keep the employees that have worked for their system in their positions,” Dr. Gardenhour added.
ECS would need an approval for an RFP (request for proposal) before moving forward with any food service provider. Further information on the topic is expected to come forward in the coming weeks.

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