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H-F extends food service contract for five years

Cafeteria food costs will go up next school year at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, but students won’t face the whole bill. 

The District 233 school board agreed to five-year contract extension at its April 16 meeting with a 10% increase in costs to Quest Food Management Services. Quest will pass along only a 5% increase to students. The district will absorb the other 5%.

There has been no increase the past two years because the district wanted to ease the burden on families as students returned to school after the pandemic, said Superintendent Scott Wakeley.

The contract also calls for Quest Food to make $75,000 in enhancements to the South Building cafeteria by upgrading the service lines, removing the fountain beverages, adding grab-&-go coolers and adding a café to the deli station. At the North Building, a café will be designed into the space to offer additional items and help with service flow. 

Quest also will start using a new sale system meal plan, said Rachel Brown, vice president of operations.

“There is work that needs to be done just in serving and getting through the line faster, which has always been a challenge for us,” Wakeley said. He sees these improvements as helpful to both the staff and the students who have limited time to eat before they go to their next class.

The contract calls for Quest Food to continue covering free breakfast and lunches for approximately 400 students and 30 reduced-cost meals per day. H-F will be responsible for any negative balances and will pay for all catering costs.

Quest will share its profits with the district through a commission system. Brown said it would be 2% or about $40,000 in 2024-25; 2.5% or about $50,000 in 2025-26; and 3% for the remaining three years.

Board President Gerald Pauling said he appreciated getting feedback from a student committee that assesses Quest Food options and services.

“Our report about food in the cafeteria has been generally positive,” he said. “That was important to me. We’re getting a service that our students value.”

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