Out of Control Policy Blog

Edible School Lunches in Philadelphia

One of my favorite metaphors for wasteful spending in education, is when students throw their "free" school lunches in the trash because the food is yucky. This year there should be less trash in Philadelphia school cafeterias.

Cafeterias in many Philadelphia public schools this year are under private management for the first time, and district officials said nicer-looking environs and better food are on the way. The district has hired Philadelphia-based Aramark to manage its full-service cafeterias in 115 schools, serving more than 100,000 students. ...

The Aramark contract, approved by the School Reform Commission in June and touted yesterday in a news release from Aramark, is worth $120 million over five years, with the option to renew each year.

The Philadelphia contract is expected to save the district about $3 million a year and include installation of a database that will allow online ordering, among other advantages, said Natalye Paquin, the district's chief operating officer. It also is expected to increase sales, raise nutritional and food-quality standards, and make the cafeterias nicer places to eat, she said.

The cafeterias had been operating on a $3.5 million deficit annually, said Wayne Grasela, the district's director of food service. Under the contract, Aramark has guaranteed it will erase that, he said.

Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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