Charles Anderson: Mission Accomplished

In Clark County, Nev., administrators tapped a principal and ex-military man to turn around the district’s foodservice program.

Accomplishments

CHARLES ANDERSON has turned CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT's foodservices into a profitable enterprise by:

  • Reorganizing staff, reducing payroll, and making procurement, production and distribution of meals more cost-effective
  • Restructuring the bid process to take advantage of price fluctuations
  • Investing in program enhancements that ensure more children will be able to afford school meals
  • Challenging employees to perform at a higher level and then recognizing them for their efforts 

Cutting staff: The team has tackled each challenge in systematic fashion, starting with reducing staff.

“When I arrived here we had two high schools,” Anderson explains. “Generally, we can run a high school kitchen with six to eight people. The two high schools had 24 employees each. They couldn’t figure out why they weren’t making any money. We can’t afford to have people in jobs unless they are being productive. That’s what’s killing so many districts right now.”

Anderson also reduced staff in the central kitchen, mostly by attrition, to improve the meals-per-man-hour rate.

Next, the department cut three delivery routes in order to make sure that trucks were being used as efficiently as possible. Anderson had discovered that because of poor organization, trucks were sometimes leaving the central kitchen and warehouse only half full.

The team also reduced warehouse inventory significantly, and Beck, working with the purchasing department, reorganized the bid processes to make them more cost-effective.

Anderson also hit on a way to get a better handle on prices, particularly of volatile items like milk and orange juice. After the district saw a 36% increase in the price of milk from one bid to the next, the department began to keep track of milk futures.

“We kind of got back-doored on that one, and I vowed that it wasn’t going to happen again,” says Anderson. What he found out was that there was a three-month period in which the price of milk actually decreased. But with an annual bid, the district wasn’t seeing any benefit from that price drop. The solution: switch to a quarterly bid adjustment.

The department also has made food safety and training priorities, creating positions for an inspector general and a training officer, and last summer all school cafeteria managers and department heads became certified in ServSafe.

Protecting value: “Here at CCSD we employ not only ROI, which every businessman knows, but VOI—value of investment,” Anderson says. “Is it worth the cost even though there is no revenue produced?”

One thing Anderson says he will not do, however, is cut costs or programs at the expense of the students. The district spends more than $2 million a year to help students and their parents. For example, the district absorbs the extra cost of preparing special meals for students with various medical needs, to the tune of $250,000. The department eliminated the reduced-priced category, instead qualifying all students who fit into that category for free meals.

“The bottom line is, we’re putting a lot of money back into the system to benefit the students,” he says, adding that the cost savings realized through operational efficiencies has allowed the department to do that. What it also has allowed staff to do is make capital improvements in the central kitchen—the department has replaced or upgraded nearly every piece of equipment in the kitchen—which, in turn, makes the kitchen operate more efficiently.

Anderson is very fond of reminding visitors that the CCSD foodservice department is successful not because of what he has done but rather what the people who work there have accomplished. He tries to make sure that top performers are recognized.

“We can’t give them monetary awards because of union rules, but we can and do give them awards, certificates and citations and we find ways to let everyone know that these people are being recognized,” he says.

One award that is easily recognizable is the manager’s badge. When an employee is promoted to manager, along with a certificate he or she receives a bronze badge, to be placed on the employee’s ID card—which must be worn at all times. After five years, the manager’s badge is swapped for a silver one, and after 10 years that badge is traded for a gold one.

Cafeterias and kitchens are inspected regularly and those that receive no demerits in two consecutive inspections are given a plaque to display in the school. Anderson says this recognition has contributed to a 310% increase—in one year—in the number of demerit-free inspections.  

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to reduce turnover, lunchroom supervisors at elementary schools in a Chicago-area district will see an increase in pay at the start of the new school year, the Chicago Tribune reports .

The board of education for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 on Aug. 8 approved a proposal to increase wages for those supervisors, boosting starting pay from from $12 to $14 an hour. Returning employees who already earn above the new rate will see an hourly increase of 2%.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joel Martin said he hopes the increased wages will allow...

Ideas and Innovation
coffee shop trailor graphic

A familiar face is coming to the roads of Rutgers University this fall: the Starbucks mermaid. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based school is testing a Starbucks truck throughout the upcoming semester, NJ.com reports . The company began testing trucks on college campuses in 2014, and now has mobile locations at Arizona State University, James Madison University in Virginia, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Sacramento State in California.

The trucks will serve the full lineup of Starbucks beverages that’s available at the outlet’s brick-and-mortar location at Rutgers,...

Industry News & Opinion

A study from Virginia Tech has found a connection between school meal participation and obesity in students. From data that predates the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act , the findings raise questions over whether nutrition standards go far enough.

The research evaluated data from 1998 to 2007, comparing first through eighth grade students who partook in free and reduced-price lunch and those who qualified but opted out. Wen You, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, says she expected to validate theories that increased breakfast...

Industry News & Opinion

Buffalo Public Schools is turning to local chefs and a little competition to help create new menu items, the Buffalo News reports .

In October, local chefs will compete against each other and a team of seven to 10 students led by chef Bobby Anderson, a former contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen,” to create lunch recipes that comply with USDA nutritional requirements and use seasonal produce sourced locally.

“This Chef Challenge is another way to engage our youth in a fun, friendly competition with local area chefs who can help create appealing recipes that will be incorporated...

FSD Resources