Education, Local News

District 161 approves new food service plans

Flossmoor School District 161 has approved a new plan for student meals. The changes are expected to result in significant savings for the district while keeping the same service for students.

The school board voted to approve a measure at the June 12 board meeting that keeps the same vendor for lunch and breakfast at Parker Junior High School. The district had previous contracts with this vendor to serve the elementary schools. District 161 will work directly with a second vendor for elementary school lunches and breakfasts next year.

Taher Food Service was the district’s sole food management company in recent years. Taher made lunches at Parker Junior High and purchased pre-plated lunches from a second vendor for the elementary schools. The second vendor, Open Kitchens, only supplied food. Taher provided the labor and equipment for serving meals to elementary school students in District 161.

The district considered new plans for feeding students to cut costs and increase food options. These changes were seen as necessary due to rising inflation and the decreasing availability of some food items. The size of the kitchens at the elementary schools was identified as the main limiting factor. 

School administrators found that the most cost-effective way of serving students was to eliminate Taher as a “middle-man” and establish a second contract with Open Kitchens. Under the new plan, the district will purchase the existing equipment from Taher. Open Kitchens will now provide the meals and labor necessary to serve elementary students.

Taher will continue to serve students at Parker. Elementary school students will continue receiving meals from Open Kitchens. Taher agreed to work with Open Kitchens and keep the same employees serving students wherever possible. While the cost to purchase equipment from Taher will offset a portion of the savings in the coming school year, the district expects to save more than $40,000 annually by making this change in subsequent fiscal years. 

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