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School Committee decides against privatization of lunch services

Date: 9/6/2011

Sept. 5, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee has decided not to pursue the privatization of its school lunch services.

The committee voted 6-1 against issuing a request for proposals from outside vendors for the purpose of bringing in one such company to manage and staff the public school lunch program. John McCarthy, who proposed the measure, was the affirmative vote.

“We had been doing a study after John McCarthy raised the issue,” School Committee Chair Scott Chapman told Reminder Publications. “With the budget so tight, we are looking at every possible savings, so we looked at private vendors versus our own food service.”

Chapman said he felt the results of the study did not support making such a move at this time from a financial standpoint.

“Our food service doesn’t cost anything beyond the benefits we offer. The food essentially pays for itself,” Chapman said. “If it wasn’t going to be a significant savings, we were not going to go through with it. We decided going into this study that if we thought we could save 10 percent or more by going to a private vendor, we would put it out to bid.”

According to Chapman, in addition to the minimal savings, the quality of the employees who work within the district’s food service made the choice much easier.

“The people who work for [the district] are there because they want to be,” Chapman said. “They like kids and that’s why they’ve chosen to be in our schools as opposed to working for banquet facilities and things like that. They interact well with our students like the people who are serving them.

“Looking at the vendors, I think we realized that losing the quality interaction between the food service employees and the students was not in the best interest of the district,” he concluded.

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