A for-profit food service company wants Toledo Public Schools’ business, arguing it could improve revenue and get more kids to eat school meals.
Philadelphia-based Aramark presented Friday to the Toledo Board of Education's food service committee its plan to take over TPS food service management. A committee request for proposals only garnered a response from Aramark.
Unions have balked at the idea of characterizing it as the first step toward privatizing food service, while committee chairman Larry Sykes has said that he’s simply looking for a corporate partner to help the district provide better service.
Aramark official Alex Agee said Friday that there would be no changes to TPS employee wages or benefits. The district has specified that if Aramark gets a contract, staff would remain TPS employees.
“I’ve heard about the rumors that are going around,” he said. “Not true. Employees will not lose their jobs.”
For years, food service has run deficits and required subsidization by the district’s general fund. Recent efforts, such as a push to increase breakfast sales, have greatly reduced that deficit. Aramark says it can increase revenue for the district by increasing the number of meals sold. They say they can entice students to eat school lunches by offering a better product, in large part by investing in school cafeterias so that each school can provide hot meals.
Aramark would then likely get a cut of the profits.
Reynald Debroas, the district’s director of child nutrition, said Friday he didn’t know what to think about the proposal. He previously worked for Aramark, and said many of the things the company proposed the district already does.
Mr. Debroas admitted he was a little offended by the presentation.
Mr. Sykes said he plans to discuss the presentation at the board’s Tuesday meeting, but wasn’t sure if he will ask board members to vote then on entering into a possible agreement with Aramark.