Category Archives: Uncategorized

Roundtable Scheduled: July 6 at 10AM

June 28, 2016

From DCPS Parent, Becky Levin:

SCHOOL MEALS:  IT’S NOT CLOSE TO OVER

Friends-

Please see details on where we are regarding the school food contract, what next steps are to review the details, and what you can do (please get involved!) to ensure $40 million is invested in the best meals possible for DCPS students.

Please contact me with any questions:  hillfoodie@yahoo.com

INITIAL VICTORY
It is a promising sign that our concerns regarding the DCPS school food contract are being heard. Members of Council have heard that it is not acceptable to push thru $40 million in contracts so late and attempt once again to evade oversight and scrutiny.  Your calls, emails, and tweets made this happen — THANK YOU!

NOT DONE YET
But the next steps remain unclear. Council could still approve the contract. And if they don’t, what’s the interim plan? Some schools begin at the end of August and the bulk of schools start in about 6 weeks.

WHERE IS THE CONTRACT
FYI, the full contract was not submitted to Council for review, only an introduction representing 13 pages of approximately hundreds for each contract. Also, no details have been released to compare the evaluations and scales used to measure each proposal. We have requested a copy of the contract and full disclosure of details. At the earliest, we may not see the full contract until late today, tomorrow or even later. I’m not sure if the paper trail for the proposal evaluations will be released at all. Oh and this isn’t free. Apparently transparency costs 25 cents a page.

We will share these details when/if they are released, so we can all evaluate the terms of the contracts and the selection process.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
We need a strong showing of support at the Roundtable on 7/6. We need parents and DC residents to continue to call Council, email Council, tweet to Council members, share information on Facebook, and if possible join meetings. Following the round table and the release of additional details, we will followup with revised next steps.

MEETING TOMORROW (Wednesday, June 29) 10am with SILVERMAN
I have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10am with Sam in Councilwoman Silverman’s office. Please let me know if you can join.:  hillfoodie@yahoo.com

TESTIFYING NEXT WED
Please email me at hillfoodie at yahoo dot com if you plan to testify or submit testimony for the record. It would be great to have kids testify! Teachers too! Unfortunately, I will be out of town, but I’ll do everything I can to prepare in advance.

INITIAL QUESTIONS
We also know that the procurement process was very questionable. DCPS submitted a school food contract solicitation timetable to Council last September, documenting a timeline spanning gathering initial feedback from stakeholders in September 2015 through approving the contract and referring it to Council 4/18/2016 and starting the contract 6/27/16.  According to that timeline, the receipt of best and final offers was scheduled for 3/10/16. That actually occurred 3/30/16, only about 2.5 weeks behind schedule. So at the latest, the contract should have been sent to Council in early May.

What is the cause of the three month delay? It appears the vendors were selected in early April. In addition, vendor selection notices went out in mid to late May, but procurement sent out subsequent messages rescinding those notifications, never providing explanations and never holding briefings with vendors that were not selected.

In addition to the timeline, we also have questions about the who was represented in the selection process, the evaluation criteria, the evaluation scale, prices proposed by each vendor, labor commitments, vendor history and more.

Please stick with us! This has been a long haul. We aren’t done yet.

Thanks everyone!
Becky

DCPS Evaluates Proposals for Food Services

 

What would allow our kids to be served the healthiest, tastiest school meals possible? Given the robust activity around the country to provide locally-sourced, taste-tested meals prepared in-house, you may imagine kind lunch ladies whipping up delicious daily offerings. Or, considering the number of eager, willing, world-renowned chefs in the DC area, you might think the city would want to capitalize on the opportunity to be a leader in school feeding.

 

But no.

 

DC Public Schools’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services continues to insist that food service companies are the best option. To this end, they have been evaluating bids from companies since December to determine which of those companies will receive the contracts to provide the District’s school meals in the upcoming year.

 

Because of a stipulation in DC city law around the bidding process, the public is not allowed to know which companies have submitted bids.

 

What we do know, however, is that big food service companies are some of the only entities that have the organizational capacity to bid in this very complicated system. One of these big food service companies is Chartwells-Thompson – the Compass Group subsidiary that just settled a $19.4 million whistleblower lawsuit that alleged fraud and mismanagement. (Chartwells-Thompson was recently involved in a bribery scandal in Chicago as well.) Another company that has expressed interest is called Sodexo. Unfortunately, this company has a history of fraud and racial discrimination as well.

 

This does not bode well.

 

Students in DC Public Schools depend on breakfasts, lunches, after school snacks, supper, and fresh fruit and vegetables to counter the effects of a rough economy and widening urban income inequality. While some parents are able to send their kids to school with homemade lunches, most are not.

 

As parents, we have to speak up. In our city, where three-fourths of public school students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches, we have a special responsibility to make sure that each and every child receives the nutritious, delicious meals that will propel them to academic success. We can do this. It’s in our power.

 

That means we have to hold the school system accountable. We have to tell them that huge multinational companies that engage in fraud, bribery, and discrimination have no place at our table.

 

Thankfully, there are other options out there, including local companies that prioritize relationships with anti-hunger organizations like Share Our Strength and the United States Healthful Food Council. With the right team at the helm, DC Public School food can be something we’re proud of. But it’s up to us to communicate these priorities.

 

salad 2Let your voice be heard! Use #NotChartwellsAgain and tell us what you want from the leadership at DCPS.
https://twitter.com/DCFoodProject
Facebook: DCSchoolFoodProject
www.DCSchoolFoodProject.org

Councilmember Cheh calls on DC Auditor to investigate DCPS’s Food Service Contracts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, June 8th, in light of the recent settlement between the District and Compass/Chartwells, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3), Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, sent the attached letter to D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson requesting an investigation into the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) performance and monitoring of its food service contracts.

Read the press release here!

DCPS Continues Contract with Chartwells After $19.4 Million Settlement

 

Chartwells, the company that provide most DC Public School children’s school meals, has agreed to pay $19.4 million to settle a suit alleging contractual breaches.  For multiple years, the suit alleges, Chartwells was paid many millions of dollars more for meals than it should have been, even while the company often delivered food late, failed to provide the full number of meals at some schools, and repeatedly served poor quality or spoiled food.

This is not the first time Chartwells has had to settle a suit of this kind.  In 2012, its parent company, Compass Group USA, paid $18 million to settle a suit about its improper retention of rebates in New York State.

Despite these settlements, the Office of the Attorney General of DC, which investigated and supported the suit’s allegations, said that Chartwells will be able to keep its contract with DCPS.  “In light of Chartwells’ acceptance of responsibility, DCPS looks forward to continuing its contractual relationship with the company.”

Reports of Chartwells’ financial irregularities and documentation of its failure to abide by the full terms of its contract have appeared for years.  At City Council hearings in 2012, parents and community organizations testified about the poor quality of food Chartwells provided and raised questions about the yearly losses the company reported, which had to be covered by DC taxpayers to the tune of around $10 million a year.  DCPS commissioned an independent audit of the company in that year and verified that the company was overcharging the city for meals and breaching its contract in other ways.

Still, Chartwells has held onto its contract with DCPS.  And it appears poised to keep that contract again, even in light of this settlement.

Comments?  Ideas?  We’d love to hear them.  Share your thoughts here.

Read the full press release here!

Share Your Stories

children-at-farmers-marketWe want to hear from you! As the eyes and ears on the ground, share what you are seeing in your school.

  • Are there exciting new menu items at your child’s school?
  • Where do feel more improvement is needed?
  • Who are the ‘school lunch champions’ helping to make a difference?
  • Any innovative ideas on how community members can get more involved in providing access to healthy school food?

To share your story send us an email.

Salad Bar

When they brought the salad bar to Tyler ES, I had the opportunity to volunteer during several lunch periods to help out the students and the staff.  The kids were very receptive to the salad bar and really seemed to enjoy the process of serving themselves.  I hope that eventually the salad bar will be a daily offering in the cafeteria.