City schools reject Aramark bid

The New Haven Board of Education will head food services without the help of Aramark — or any independent food services contractor for that matter.

In Monday’s monthly BOE meeting, the board voted unanimously to bring control of the food services in-house, effectively rejecting the three outside bidders. Chief Operating Officer Clark said Monday that the board is currently looking for someone from within New Haven Public Schools to act as an executive director, who will oversee kitchen operations, according to media sources.

Clark said at Monday’s meeting that the BOE was not impressed by the three applications the BOE received for leading food services over the next year — one of which was from Philadelphia-based Aramark Corporation, the company in charge of New Haven public-school food since 1994. He said the board found the applicants all have problems financial accountability in their practices and in guaranteeing delivery of fresh food.

The three applications also called for an about $1 million subsidy from the city. According to the New Haven Independent, the proposed net annual budget for all three prospective contractors would be at a loss without the subsidies from the city, costing the city more than if the city directly controlled food services.

In response to the Clark’s comments, Aramark Director of Communications Karen Cutler said that the company “continues to stand by [its] record of service.”

“If quality was truly an issue, meal participation and number of meals would not be increasing year over year,” she said in a e-mail Wednesday. “We … will continue serving the students of New Haven until we are notified otherwise.”

In February, BOE Superintendent Reginald Mayo announced he would allow other contractors to bid for the position of food provider and manager for the over 20,000 children in the school system. The announcement followed an onslaught of union and public opposition to Aramark’s continued control of the culinary services, which many parents have said have been horrible at best.

The public outcry against Aramark continues even until now. In mid-April, New Haven Public Schools officials, custodial and food-service workers participated in a union rally to urge city leaders to reject the company.

Aramark is no stranger to being shut out from New Haven. The company was also booted from Yale University dining services in February.

Still, Cutler said in the e-mail that the company throughout the years had “increased service quality and efficiency.”

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