Some of our families expressed an interest late last summer in the meal program offered by the School Lunch Association; however, we were under contract with our current provider, Chartwells. At that time, I gave my word that we would explore the School Lunch Association program later in the school year with an eye to September 2018.
We began this exploration and consultation on February 20, 2018 when we issued a letter to our families looking for feedback as to what the issues and concerns were with both lunch options. We extend our thanks and appreciation to all of our families who responded to the survey with very valuable and detailed feedback.
Please understand that the initial survey was just that, a survey – it was not a vote. We were keenly interested in your feedback about both lunch programs. We wanted as much detail as possible about what your issues were with both options. During this initial round, 38% indicated a preference for Chartwells and 62% preferred the School Lunch Association.
Proponents of the services offered by Chartwells enjoy the variety of selections available on its menu. They enjoy the flexibility of picking and choosing what to order from the variety available which is good for those children who are “picky” eaters. They also like the flexibility of ordering as often as they want and their ability to order the night before or in the morning before recess and lunch. Refunds are also available to those families whose children are sick and not at school.
Proponents of the services offered by the School Lunch Association like the costs associated with its program as it presents a more affordable option to families. They also like the ease and convenience of ordering a month in advance and the large variety of meals throughout the month.
We followed up on suggestions that we ask Chartwells if they would offer some lower cost options that we could present to families and they agreed. Beginning in September 2018, Chartwells will offer a daily special that includes a milk or juice for $4.75.
For ease of comparison, copies of the March menu from the School Lunch Association and the September 2018 menu from Chartwells were distributed to our families on February 28, 2018 along with a complete breakdown of both programs in terms of costs, variety, ordering, recess, reimbursements, environmental impact, nutrition, and social justice.
We accepted feedback up to and including Monday, March 5, 2018.
The results of this consultation are as follows:
Total returned: 292
Prefer Chartwells: 177 (61%)
Prefer School Lunch Association: 114 (39%)
Consequently, it is our intention to continue our relationship with Chartwells. We will be meeting with key Chartwells staff in the coming weeks to address the concerns that were raised about their services in an effort to make it the best that it can be.
We thank you for your patience as this process unfolded and for your respectful dialogue and debate about the options before us.
As always, please let me know if you have questions or concerns.