As a result, district officials are looking at the possibility of running their own program. Metzler proposed that all food service employees move on to Timberlane’s payroll. Two-thirds of the employees are paid by Timberlane, the other third is paid by Whitson’s.
“One of the benefits to running it ourselves is that we would use local food and local farmers,” Metzler said.
Only 29 of the state’s 90-plus School Administrative Units outsource their food service contracts, according to Cheri White, nutrition administrator for the state Department of Education.
“There isn’t a trend either way that we’re seeing,” White said. “Each year, some go on and some go off.”
But the idea of outsourcing would intrigue Cathy Lisi, a parent of two students at Timberlane Regional Middle School.
“The food right now is just too bland,” Lisi said. “I’d like to see fresh produce from local farm stands being served to our kids.”
The school has a multi-year deal with Whitson’s, but has a 60-day window to opt out of the contract, starting on May 1.
“Both options are still on the table,” School Board Chairman Rob Collins said. “It’s always disconcerting, but I know other districts are suffering from similar growing pains. I’m confident that we will figure something out.”