Efforts by Proviso Township High Schools District 209 officials to get rid of Aramark Education Services as the company responsible for feeding district students who qualify for free breakfast and lunch have picked up steam, with a document recently released by the district indicating that they could find another food service provider by June.
Students, teachers, faculty and administration members have been increasingly frustrated by the level of service Aramark has provided over the last two years.
As previously reported by Forest Park Review, last July, the D209 school board in begrudgingly approved a one-year, roughly $1.1 million food services contract with Aramark to provide free breakfast and lunch despite many complaints from students and district officials about the quality of the company’s food and services, and the program’s low participation rate.
In November, the school board discussed ways to get out of its contract with Aramark, despite reports from administration officials that the company had made marginal improvements to its food service in response to the complaints.
At the time, some district officials expressed reservations about possibly starting a legal battle with Aramark and Todd Drafall, D209’s chief financial officer, explained that because the process of bidding for a food service provider is highly regulated by the state, it would be difficult for the district to part ways with the giant food company while also finding an alternative before the 2018 school year.
“The district continues its search for a food service management company that will provide the level of service we demand for our students,” according to the district document, released Jan. 9. “Along with [an] increased level of service, we expect healthier food choices and an increased variety of menu choices which will increase student participation.”
District officials said that there will time for students, faculty and staff to provide input during the bid process. In addition, bidders could also be asked to participate in a taste test, provided the Illinois State Board of Education signs off on that measure.