Food service returns to LAHS

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Schools: The lunch option will begin in the second semester

By Jennifer Garcia

More change is coming to Los Alamos High School for the second semester.
Not only will students have new schedules and a new building in which to attend classes, but they will also have a new lunch option.

Summit, a food service company based in Albuquerque, will offer lunch service to LAHS students, which has been absent for several years. Students have had to go off-campus to get lunch or purchase food from various clubs on campus when it was sold. Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) also offered various snacks for a quick bite.

Though Summit’s food service is new to the high school, it is no stranger to the district. They began serving students at the middle school Aug. 15, and then began serving Mountain and Piñon elementary schools later that same week. By mid-September, Summit was serving all of the elementary schools.

The process of getting food service into the various schools began on April 30, when the district sent out a request for proposals.

Two companies, Chartwells and Summit both submitted bids in response to the RFP. Interviews were conducted June 22 at the Central Office Complex on Trinity Drive. Both Summit and Chartwells officials were interviewed.

After the interviews, the district entered negotiations and chose to contract with Summit.
Purchasing Manager

June Gladney said throughout most of the district’s history, “we have run our own cafeteria program with LAPS employees. It focused mainly at the middle school level until the last two years when the middle school cafeteria staff also provided lunches on certain days at Aspen and Mountain.

“Approximately 12 years ago, we contracted with another food service company for one year only. It was not a successful year and the district went back to doing its own program,” she said. “The program at the middle school was not paying for itself and last spring during budget discussions, the school board decided it would no longer supplement food service with funds from our leased facility revenue. They directed that an RFP be released and that we bring in a professional company whose only business is food service.”

Information on Summit’s website regarding its food service indicates, “In 2004, Summit Food Service Management, Inc. partnered with A’viands, LLC as a subsidiary company serving Correctional facilities and K-12 schools in the Southwest. The mutual focus of both companies has resulted in a partnership that truly provides world class food management services that continually exceeds customer expectations.”

The company contends that because Summit is based in Albuquerque, and the parent company A’viands is in Minneapolis & Saint Paul, “we are able deliver services throughout the Southwest.”

Instead of placing a value on the contract with Summit, they are being paid according to the number of lunches that are sold at the school sites.

“The value of the contract for Summit was the amount of participation that Summit generated because of the quality of their service and products, and the money collected for those lunches sold,” Gladney explained.

Full-meal lunches are selling for $3.75 at the elementary schools and $4 at the middle school. Mountain Elementary is currently offering free and reduced-price lunches to children who qualify. That program, which began Dec. 1, is serving as a pilot for the district, and if successful, could be offered at other elementary schools.

“Now we are paying Summit for the lunches at Mountain only because we will file for the federal reimbursements. Again, the value of that will depend on the number of lunches served,” Gladney said.

Currently, all of the meals for elementary students are prepared at the middle school and transported to the various school sites.

“With the opening of the new food service area in the high school’s common area, the prep work for the high school offerings will be done in the serving kitchen area there,” Gladney said.

Summit will not offer full-meal lunches at the high school, but rather a la carte items.

Gladney said the district contracts with food service providers for one year at a time, with three potential one-year renewal periods, which follows state procurement code.

“Summit is very excited about the possibility of providing food on campus so that students will not have to leave for lunch,” she said. “They have worked extremely hard this fall to bring a lunch program to six of our schools. Our elementary schools were built with almost no kitchen facilities, so it has been a challenge to start these programs.”

She also said the district office staff is anticipating success with the new high school facility.

High school students and their parents will get the opportunity to sample some of Summit’s offerings during an open house Jan. 4. The event is open only to LAHS students and their parents.

An email to Summit officials seeking comment on Friday was not returned.