ER9 to keep Chartwells as food provider

Easton Board of Education chair Jeff Parker announced at the Tri-District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, May 16, that the district-wide school lunch committee has decided to keep its contract with food service provider Chartwells for the upcoming year.

The schools’ current contract with Chartwells is renewable every year for the next four years.

While the re-signing of the contract was not controversial, the allocation of funds paid for school lunches became a hot topic of discussion.

As it stands now, all money paid for school lunches goes into a district-wide account and is dispersed based on the in-kitchen needs of all five schools, as suggested by Chartwells staff.

But as the annual amount taken in is often more than $300,000, and individual kitchen needs (like a replacement refrigerator) can cost up to $20,000, some board members wondered why they don’t receive more information, or the chance to vote, on how that money is spent.

“Who can just make the decision to spend $20,000 [on a refrigerator] without the board reviewing this? There should be some sort of a process,” said Region 9 board member Mike D’Agostino.

Fellow Region 9 board member Cathy Gombos added that she would like to see an accounting sheet that breaks down how much in revenue each school’s lunch program brings in, so the funds can be dispersed in proportion equal to the revenue.

“I’d like to see some type of an accounting sheet, so we could be sure the funds through school lunches are re-allocated equally,” Gombos said. “We’re not talking about $20,000 per year, we’re talking about $300,000 per year. We can take a look at how those monies have been allocated to which locations, and fairly re-allocate taxpayer money back.”

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