The Greendale School District is hiring a consultant to help better the food program as part of the transition of the program that will take place upon the retirement of food service director Pat Muth.
The district wishes to keep ownership of the food program rather than turning it over to a management company. The district asked a team of parents, students, teachers and administrators to seek bids for an in-house solution to managing the operation.
On Monday, the school board approved hiring Pennsylvania-based School Operations Services, a food service consulting firm in the public school and private school market.
The firm will help train and mentor a new on-site food service coordinator, who will oversee the daily operation. With School Operations Services’ help the district will seek an entry-level person with at least an Associates Degree in a culinary or dietetic/nutritional educational program. The new food service coordinator’s salary and benefits are expected to be less than what the district paid Muth, who has 30 years of experience with Greendale. The savings in salary and benefits, a minimum of $10,000 annually, will help pay for the cost of the consultant.
School Operations Services provided the only bid: $56,000 for 14 months, or $48,000 for one year.
“We believe that participation (in school food service) can be increased by the changes planned in the program, thereby helping to pay the cost,” wrote Business Director Erin Green in a memo. Currently, about 42 percent of the district’s students use the food service program.
The district hopes to raise this to the 50% to 60% range over the next few years.
Lunch prices will also increases in line with Federal mandates and should generate minimally $33,000.
“The reason that the team is highest on this solution is the massive expertise that can be garnered from SOS in advancing our goals of increased nutritional education and involvement for parents and students, managing school gardens, increasing participation in the program, and increasing healthy menu options,” Green wrote.
School Operations Services is owned by Barbara Nissel, who is also a food service director in Pennsylvania’s Great Valley School District, a suburban public school district similar to Greendale. She has also consulted many surrounding districts. Nissel has two Masters Degrees in nutrition-related areas, and is a former teacher. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction relies on her to train many new food service directors. The USDA also relies on her to advise them on changes to the National Lunch Program. Green also mentioned that she has worked with Michelle Obama’s health initiatives.
Board Vice President Tom Slota said he’s happy to see staff turning the retirement of Muth into an opportunity to improve the food service in the district.
Student board member Hayley Serketich said she was excited for the change and seeing healthier options.