City Desk

Rotten Pears, Moldy Breakfast Bars Served to DCPS Students

Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Stir‐Fry Over Whole Wheat Noodles

Stir‐Fried Fresh Vegetables w/Napa Cabbage & Bok Choy

Fresh Rotten Pear

All sounds pretty good. Well, aside from the last part. DCPS officials are complaining that their school meal contractor Chartwells has been delivering unsatisfactory meals "for some time." From the Post:

“The expectation was that issues that we have struggled with in the past would be corrected and improved by now,” Glorious Bazemore, deputy chief procurement officer for the school system, wrote in a letter to Chartwells officials. “However, we have continued to struggle with daily problems that disrupt the rhythm of a regular school day.”

Problems include: Moldy breakfast bars (which the company denies), improperly portioned meals, and a failure to deliver breakfast to early childhood education classes. More troubling than that, however, is that Chancellor Kaya Henderson points out the $32 million-a-year contract itself is a problem: DCPS is required to pay for every meal provided by Chartwells, whether or not a student buys it.

The contract is up at the end of the school year, giving DCPS an opportunity to find a (hopefully) better provider of student meals. Then again, considering how bad this city is at properly awarding contracts, who knows?

Photo by whitneybee via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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  • Green Eyeshade

    DC Council just convened a hearing on Thursday morning, Jan. 26, to add spending to the current budget (FY 2012). In December the Mayor asked for an additional $10.7 Million for the DCPS food service contract. Council Chair Kwame Brown just said this morning that Council is proposing to increase spending on that contract by Twelve Million ($12,000,000), not just $10.7 Million.

    If the Chartwell contract is the contract that the Council and the Mayor want to spend more money on, it seems the government has lost its common sense. When food contracts are crappy, you CUT the contract, you don't INCREASE it.

    Click my name for the link to the Mayor's 12/23/2011 press release, or go here:

  • Green Eyeshade

    The online WaPo article posted last night (click link in article above or click my name) had additional details about costs in the Chartwell contract:

    "D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3) said in a recent letter to the council that she plans to push to expand the school system’s ties with DC Central Kitchen and Revolution Foods, which run two pilot programs at 14 schools. Cheh said DC Central and Revolution charge about $1 less per meal than Chartwells charges and provide better service.

    “ 'Even without [the deficiencies], we have to move away from our arrangement with them,' Cheh said. “It just adds to my disappointment with them.'

    "In addition to spoiled food, late deliveries and missing items, D.C. officials contend that Chartwells has misused the point-of-sale machines in the schools and has overstocked storage spaces, potentially costing the District revenue. Chartwells has also failed to comply with the District’s Healthy Schools Act, which requires breakfast in elementary schools to be brought to classrooms or served at cafeteria tables, as well as the District Living Wage Act, which requires a minimum wage of $12.50 for the food service positions, school officials said.

    "Company officials have said they adjusted wages for employees who were below the minimum wage requirement once they were notified by the union that the salaries were too low. Company officials said they were paying employees using the same rate structure the school system used prior to the start of the contract."

  • Typical DC BS

    Maybe more parents should be feeding the kids BEFORE school. You give someone a handout, they'd be stupid not to take advantage of it, even if they don't really need it.