Tuesday, January 16, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A photo of a meal on Aramark’s website. | Aramark
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.
Although the document didn’t say conclusively that a new company would be replacing Aramark, the move by district officials to go to bid signals that the company’s time serving D209 students could be coming to an end.
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.
Below is a timeline of the preliminary bid process outlined by D209
January 2018: Gather input from students, faculty, and staff on suggestions for a January 2018 better food service management company.
Jan. 29, 2018: Prepare bid document to be submitted to ISBE for review PRIOR to publishing, must have approval from ISBE. Allow at least 30 days for review.
Feb. 28, 2018: Receive approval from ISBE
March 8, 2018: Publish approved bid document and send to a minimum of five potential bidders. Must allow minimum of thirty (30) days for bid to be due back to District.
March 15, 2018: Mandatory pre-bid meeting
April 10, 2018: Bids due to District and public bid opening
April 12, 2018: Send results of bid to ISBE for review—allow at least 15 days PRIOR to awarding contract
April 27, 201: Receive results of bid back from ISBE
May 2018: After ISBE approval, put on Board agenda to award contract
May 2018: BOE and FOP approval of selected vendor
June 1, 2018: Selected and approved food service vendor notified contract start date established VFP
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