Sodexo will return as Monticello School District’s food service vendor

Monticello School Board members have selected Sodexo as the district’s food service vendor for more three years and possibly five years if state legislators pass a new law.

Tina Burkholder, director of business services, reviewed an administrative team recommendation during Monday night’s school board meeting.

Superintendent Jim Johnson, Assistant Superintendent Joe Dockendorf and Burkholder reviewed, evaluated and scored proposals that were collected as part of the food service vendor request for proposals process that started in January.

“There are different years that school districts have to go out for this process, and this was our year,” Burkholder said. “After publising a notice, we had a pre-bid meeting in March that was mandatory for all vendors. An emailed letter was sent out to about 20 food service providers. Four companies [Chartwells, Lancer, Sodexo, and Taher] showed up.”

Proposals were due April 11. Only two of the four companies submitted proposals, Sodexo and Taher, Burkholder reported.

The review team used a scoring sheet that was shared with budget committee members.

“There’s a point matrix calculator that we used to grade the two proposals; some of the main factors that are listed besides price include the food service manager candidate, employee training, early adoptions on new regulations, and equipment management, which involves coordinating old equipment and figuring out how to get it replaced,” Burkholder said.

In a background memo, Burkholder stated that one thing that was important to her was having a food service vendor develop a strategic plan for replacing the district’s old equipment in an affordable way.

“We want to continue to have a full-time, qualified food service manager,” Burkholder’s memo stated. “Work safety focusing on lifting, bending, slicing, etc. was also important to us and our employees and scored higher for those companies addressing that need. We have various food service related programs that we want to continue such as the backpack program, which as has been very beneficial to our students and families in the community.”

While Taher was unique in offering tiered selections where meals could cost different amounts based on what a student selects, the Monticello School District prefers to offer meals that cost the same no matter what they select, Burkholder said.

After all the factors were evaluated and considered, Sodexo scored the most points on the evaluation matrix.

“After all of those factors were considered and weighed, Sodexo was the best overall,” Burkholder said.

During discussion, Boardmember Jeff Hegle asked about pending state legislation regarding contracts.

“Right now, state law says we can only do one year plus two [when renewing a food service contract],” Burkholder explained. “The federal law is one year plus four. We have to go by what’s most restrictive. I testified in February or March to have state law match federal law, but it’s all in negotiations right now [with state lawmakers]. They have until May 22 to make a decision.”

Boardmember Jill Bartlett motioned, with Boardmember Carol McNaughton seconding, to accept Burkholder’s food service contract recommendation.

Other board members agreed, and the request passed 5-0. Boardmember Missy Hanson was not in attendance Monday.

Contact Tim Hennagir at [email protected]