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BEA may hire company for food services

By Staff | Apr 17, 2016

Instead of running their own food service program, the Blue Earth Area School District is exploring hiring a food service management company to do it for them.

BEA superintendent Evan Gough explained to the School Board last Monday night that a committee is developing a plan to possibly move forward with this idea.

The committee is composed of Gough, high school principal Rich Schneider, School Board chairman Frankie Bly and school accountant Heidi Olson.

“We have developed a 79-page RFP (request for proposals) which details what we are looking at,” Gough told the board. “And we have published the legal notice for the bids.”

He added that the committee has already had some response to the RFP.

“We have three companies which are interested in submitting proposals.” Gough said. “Two of them already serve schools in Minnesota, including in our area, and one has not been in Minnesota, but in neighboring states.”

The superintendent said they have had good reports from the districts who use these management companies.

The committee received two proposals by last Thursday’s deadline and will now review them and score them before presenting a proposal to the School Board at their May meeting for a final decision.

Gough stressed that this is not something the district has to do.

“We are proud of our food service program we have here,” Gough said. “Things like the salad bar and the new menu items make it a very good program. It is not that we are forced to make a change; things are going well.”

But, he added, the guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) make it difficult on the management side.

“The program needs a food services director,” he said. “And the USDA now requires more training for the director and the head cooks.”

The program could run much better using a food services management company, he added. There could also be financial savings in lower food costs.

And, Gough added, the current food services employees would stay on and would not lose their jobs.

For the first year of the three-year contract, the employees would still be employed by the district. After that they could eventually become employees of the management company.