New Food Service Coming to Southern Regional School District for 2019-20

By David Biggy | Jun 26, 2019

Stafford Township — Starting this fall, students in the Southern Regional School District will notice some differences to their lunchtime selections. In its regular monthly meeting on June 19, the board of education approved the bid for a new food service company, ending what had been a fairly long stint with Sodexo Food Service.

“The way it works with food services is that the company targets an income, and if they go over, we get the benefit, but if they go under it, we have to close the gap,” said Superintendent Craig Henry after the meeting. “Two years ago, we had to pay Sodexo about $90,000 because they underperformed on their sales, and last year we had to pay about $50,000. So they were overbidding and underperforming, and we decided to go with this other group, an up-and-coming provider which is starting to pick up a lot of accounts Sodexo has lost during the past few years.”

With unanimous approval, the board approved the bid from Pomptonian Food Service, based in Fairfield, and will contract the service for the 2019-20 school year with the option of four additional one-year renewals for a total five-year term.

“There are a lot of inhibitors to providing food services to students in schools,” Henry said. “Pomptonian provides a food court approach with a lot of different options that are more attractive to kids, and they guarantee a profit for the district on their bottom-line contract. They have recent references where they’ve used this food court approach, and we found that they’re more interactive with the kids, to where they use analytics to gauge their sales. If sales are down, they will find out through their interactive relationship with the kids how to change things. They have a more dynamic approach.”

Part of that approach starts with menus that offer “a well-balanced, appealing and appetizing menu on a daily basis,” according to the Pomptonian website. Several unique initiatives include “The Farm Stand,” through which the company provides a variety of fruit and vegetable options each day, including “Jersey Fresh” options when available in season, as well as its “Farm to School” program, which is aimed at connecting students to New Jersey produce providers by utilizing not only local fruits and vegetables, but also local milk, and a variety of nutrition awareness programs. More about the company can be found at pomptonian.com.

As for other business on the agenda, the board also approved the Southern Regional Education Association’s new contract, following negotiations that began in March. The current contract was set to expire on June 30. The new contract begins July 1 and will expire on June 30, 2022.

“The SREA agreement includes salary increases of 2.9 percent for each year and includes a $275 salary adjustment per employee in 2019-20 and 2021-22,” said Business Administrator Steve Terhune. “It also included an incentive to encourage employees to select a lower cost health insurance plan.”

Additionally, the board approved an amendment to the district’s agreement with the Stafford Township Police Department to encompass the hiring of a fifth Class III officer to help patrol the middle school and high school buildings during the school day. Last March, as part of a pilot initiative, the board moved forward on a plan to include four Class III officers to patrol for this past school year.

“The program far exceeded our expectations in a positive way,” Henry said before the board. “So we made the commitment to add a fifth officer, operating under the same exact conditions and terms as the other four we had this year.”

Henry said adding a fifth officer allows for two officers to be on patrol at the middle school. For the 2018-19 year, the patrol allowed for three officers to be in the high school and one in the middle school at all times. Each officer worked a maximum of 30 hours per week at $27 per hour.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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