District 99 contracts with new food provider

Sidney Lee, Feature Editor

After the previous food service provider, Quest, backed out of its contract, District 99 scrambled to find a new vendor for the 2016-2017 school year. The new provider, Chartwells, has a five-year contract with District 99. Bringing many new food options to the table, Chartwells is estimated to serve about 310,000 lunch meals and 53,000 breakfasts this year.

Before the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Quest approached the district’s business office to notify them that they were not able to continue under the current contract due to cost. There is a clause in the contract that allows Quest to get out of it for certain situations.

“We don’t want to bind someone to a situation where they are losing money and are not able to offer the quality and service that we expect,” associate principal Dr. Ken Sorensen said.

The reduced and free meal programs remain the same under the new contract with Chartwells. The cost for the reduced lunch is still $1.50 and $.30 for breakfast. By following the guidelines for the National School Lunch Program, District 99 becomes eligible for state and federal reimbursements for any lunch or breakfast meals they serve at a free or reduced price. These contracts are regulated by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

“The regulations that ISBE follows are set by the federal government’s Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act,” ASC Controller Mark Staehlin said. “Those regulations limit the food components and dietary limits, such as protein, sugar, carbohydrate and calories levels per serving.”

So far the new food service provider has been a good fit for DGN. Chartwells is expected to continue to serve healthy and affordable meals to students and staff for the next five years.