Students' complaints over the serving sizes and quality of the food in Monroe public school cafeterias influenced a decision to opt out of the contract with Sodexo and put the food services out to bid. On Monday night, the Board of Education solidified that course of action by unanimously agreeing to send out a request for proposals.
Board of Education member Jeff Guttman cautioned against simply going with the lowest bidder.
"I don't want to just look at the lowest bid and sacrifice food quality," Guttman said. "We also have to look at what distributors they're buying from. It all has to be considered. I'd rather pay a little bit more to know my kid isn't only getting a healthy meal, but a quality meal."
Sodexo's current contract would expire in June of 2014.
Sodexo, which blamed USDA guidelines on the maximum amount of meats and grains for 2012-13 for much of the problems, has been known as a good corporate citizen, donating food for the Monroe Rotary Club's golf tournament and supplying free food to the Monroe Senior Center when it was being used as an emergency shelter during Hurricane Sandy for example.
Board of Education member Mark Antinozzi asked fellow board members not to be biased toward Sodexho, should it be one of the companies to respond to the RFP.
A school lunch survey was nearly split down the middle when it came to satisfaction. While some students were satisfied, many others complained about small food portions for menu items like popcorn chicken and of food that is too processed and unhealthy. Some parents said their children told them their cafeteria had run out of food.