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updated: 6/28/2012 11:09 PM

District 95 gives former food service company a second chance

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By Jennifer Earl

Lake Zurich Unit District 95 is giving its previous food service company, Sodexo, another chance.

Officials approved a two-year $3 million contract with Sodexo Inc. at a school board meeting Thursday night. The district decided not to re-sign a contract with Southwest Foodservice Excellence LLC, its food service vendor of one year.

District 95 school board members said they noticed complaints with the food and a drop in food sales last school year.

"The first question I get from kids is about food -- 'Can you change the food?'" said Lisa Warren, school board member.

Last year, District 95 ended a 30-year relationship with Sodexo to sign a more than $1.5 million one-year contract with Southwest Foodservice Excellence in an effort to give students healthier options. Southwest Foodservice Excellence made changes to the existing food system by cooking from scratch, adding a free salad bar, eliminating fried food and adding water stations.

Doris Timmen, director of business development at Sodexo, said the company will provide healthy options and experiment with their menus to find what students enjoy.

"Our thought process is to regain the trust and confidence of students, parents, faculty and staff and then build from there," she said.

Vicky Cullinan, assistant superintendent of business and operations for District 95, said Sodexo needs to increase food sales that declined last year. "I would like to believe that Sodexo has a clear understanding of what the potential sales are here and knows what their options are," she said.

The district received bids from Quest Food Management Services and Sodexo at the beginning of June. Sodexo promised not to raise lunch prices, while Quest Food Service wanted to raise prices by 50 cents.

Timmen said surveys about the company's food will be regularly administered to all the schools to get student feedback, and the survey results and food sales will be shared to the school board.

"This isn't an account to us, it's a partnership," she said. "We really are thrilled to be back. To us it's like coming home."

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