Pawtucket schools’ contract with Sodexo in jeopardy

Rhode Island DOE refuses to approve contract, citing district’s failure to follow proper procedures

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Officials from the Rhode Island Department of Education say they are "unable to approve" a new three-year food service contract with city mainstay Sodexo, meaning school officials must abandon the deal or risk losing big reimbursement dollars.

In a letter to school officials, Becky Bessette, administrator of child nutrition programs in the Office of Statewide Efficiencies, said that the Pawtucket School Committee "failed to follow the evaluation process pre-approved by RIDE" when it approved a contract with Sodexo over low-bidder Chartwells at a June 30 meeting.

"Lack of RIDE approval would impact our ability to reimburse Pawtucket for meals served through the school meal programs," wrote Bessette.

The total reimbursement that the Pawtucket School Department could stand to lose is more than $3.67 million, according to Bessette.

The ruling from RIDE appears to serve as an ultimatum for the Pawtucket School Committee: Either reverse course on the contract with Sodexo and sign a contract with Chartwells or risk losing the money.

"The matter is now in the hands of the Pawtucket School Department," said RIDE spokesman Elliot Krieger.

School Committee Chairman Michael Araujo, who said Monday that he "respected the bid process" and originally voted for Chartwells, had not heard about the ruling from RIDE. He told The Breeze that the school board will need to get advice from legal counsel before deciding what to do.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

FSD Resources