Aramark out, Nutrition Inc. in for WCSD food service

After what at times was a rocky relationship, the Warren County School District has parted ways with Aramark as the district’s food service provider.

The school board selected Nutrition, Inc. as the new entity that will run the program next academic year during a special meeting held on Wednesday at the Warren County Career Center.

Nutrition, Inc. was one of three food service providers, along with Aramark and Metz, that responded to a request for proposal from the district.

Within each proposal, each entity estimated expected revenue as well as expected costs, but in all three proposals a loss was projected. Nutrition, Inc. projected a $250,502.82 loss while both Aramark and Metz projected losses exceeding $350,000.

However, Nutrition, Inc. offered a guaranteed profit to the district of $126,000, leaving the district on the hook for the remainder of the difference.

“$126,000 is what our exposure is, less some potential exceptions,” Director of Business Services Jim Grosch said.

The proposal from Metz offered a guarantee to cover the entire difference but total costs were significantly higher. Aramark offered no guaranteed profit amount.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Board President Arthur Stewart thanked Aramark for “being with us all those years. The board is constrained by financial conditions as well as subjective considerations.”

From quality of food to the dollar amount of profit guarantee, the district has put out for proposals for the food service contract each of the last two years.

Nutrition, Inc., estimated food costs approximately $25,000 lower than Aramark and labor and benefit costs nearly $40,000 less. In supplies, Nutrition, Inc.’s estimate of $50,597.64 was much lower than Metz at $91,680.05 and Aramark at $142,869.

Another way to compare the three offers is by looking at price per meal. Nutrition, Inc. offered a proposal where the cost per meal would be $1.5752, slightly less than Metz at $1.811 and significantly lower than Aramark’s offer at $3.3599.

While the program will run at a loss next year, the difference will not be made up by increasing prices.

“Prices will remain the same for 2013-2014,” Grosch said. “I am hoping they (Nutrition, Inc.) will bring ‘exciting’ options that the kids will welcome and want to eat.”