Research states that when students obtain healthy and nutritious school meals, they perform better academically, have fewer school absences, better behavior, and perform better on standardized test scores (Adrogue’ & Orlicki, 2009, Caldes & Ahmed, 2004). The Lonoke School Board voted to outsource the food service program for the 2015-16 school year on June 23, 2014. The board made this decision based on the recommendation from the superintendent and upon review of other school district visits and information in which the board took tours, sampled the food, and visited with food service employees, outsourcing company personnel, and the administration. Food service personnel have been informed of this transition through meetings and were invited to a question/answer session. The food service director has been on site visits to other school districts that outsource to obtain information and ask questions. The decision to move in this direction is a district effort to provide more variety of food quality to our students and to promote healthier eating habits. The district food service program has also been operating in the red for several years now, and this is an effort to reduce food costs while still providing tasty and healthy meals to students and staff while increasing our food service budget that can aid in continuing to keep our equipment up to date and in good working condition.
The district will go through a year -long process this upcoming school year, 2014-15 and then be ready to begin with an outsource company for the 2015-16 school year. The district will take bids and decide on the best company for the students and the district. Current food service employees will remain if they so choose but will be employed through the company and not the school district. Employee benefits will remain but will be through the company with differing options, etc. Information will be shared as the district goes through this process during the school year to keep everyone informed and up to date. We want the best food, presentation, and quality we can get for our students.