After five years, the Yukon School District is parting ways with its current food service provider, and will save almost $200,000 by doing so.
The Yukon School Board voted Monday to enter into a five-year contract with Sodexo Food Services.
The new contract will begin July 1.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said that while he appreciates the job that Southwest Foodservice Excellence has done for the past five years, the savings offered by Sodexo were too significant to ignore.
Simeroth told the board Sodexo’s proposal includes guaranteed revenue of $180,000.
Each contract, he said, has a guaranteed return, which is profit that goes into the child nutrition program. That money is used to pay for the purchase of equipment, including the food truck the district obtained this year.
However, the money also will be available to help purchase equipment for a new intermediate school that will be built in the northern part of Yukon next year.
“As we continue to grow as a district, we continue to look at ways to increase that,” Simeroth said.
Board President Rex Van Meter said the decision between SFE and Sodexo was very close.
“It wasn’t all about the budget, although the benefit to the district was significant,” he said. “We talked about innovation, employee relationships and talked about increased participation. It was very close.
“We have had very good service. We’ve been very pleased with our current provider, but when we heard the presentation and did the scoring, our recommendations are what we have here today,” Van Meter said.
Simeroth said under the contract, all current SFE employees will be offered positions with Sodexo and will receive a 2 percent raise. They will have the same or more hours, he said.
“Anyone who has a job will have a similar job with Sodexo,” he said.
Emily Forte, the director of nutrition services for Yukon, urged the board to table the issue and to give her company another opportunity to make a presentation, pointing to the company’s efforts over the past five years.
She pointed to the implementation of several innovative ideas that include the food truck and the creation of a coffee bar at the high school, the purchase of more than $100,000 in equipment at no cost to the general fund.
In addition she pointed to the implementation of health fairs, a farmers market and cooking classes.
Forte said under SFE’s efforts, the district has begun providing feeding programs at the alternative education program, head start and other programs.
She also pointed out that during the recent teacher walkout, her company spent more than $9,000 to provide food to children who might not otherwise have been fed.
“These are just a few of the highlights we worked to achieve. A 62 percent increase in student participation does not happen without superior innovation,” she said.
Despite her pleas that the negotiations be reopened so that they could fairly compete with a two-person management team that Sodexo proposed, the board voted 3-1 in favor of changing providers.
Board member Don Rowe was absent from the meeting, while member Leonard Wells voted against making the change.