August 03, 2010

RAISING THE BAR: DCPS Takes First Step to Dramatically Improve the Quality, Taste and Nutrition of School Meals 

School System Launches Two Pilot Food Service Models to Bring Fresh and Local Food to 14 Schools

Contact: Jennifer Calloway | (202) 535-1096

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) will launch two pilot food service models that will bring fresh and local ingredients to 14 schools –dramatically improving the taste, quality and nutrition of the meals served. DCPS is committed to transforming its food service program to offer the highest quality food for students at the best price and has awarded contracts to two vendors: Revolution Foods will provide fresh portable meals to seven schools; and DC Central Kitchen will provide meals made-from-scratch to seven schools.

Each vendor participated in a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process that included a taste test with students and school staff. Vendor proposals were evaluated on numerous criteria including vendors’ capacity to implement specifics of the pilot programs and taste and quality of their menu offerings. DC Central Kitchen gained evaluative points for its unique model of procuring local foods and transforming that food into healthy, appetizing meals. Revolution Foods demonstrated its unique marketing efforts to encourage students to try its healthy food options.

“Children who eat nutritious meals are not only healthier, they are also better learners,” stated Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “This administration is committed to providing healthy food in schools as one of the crucial supports needed for children to achieve at the highest levels.”

DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee added, “As a mother of two DCPS students, I hear daily about the challenges we face in the cafeteria. Whether it’s taste or variety, I know all too well the impact and impression school meals make on our students.” She continued, “Three years ago, we made a commitment to balance taste and nutrition with a comprehensive food service program that offers the best value to the city. This is a major step forward.”

Chartwells-Thompson, the school system’s current food service vendor, will retain its service contract to provide meals for 108 schools. DCPS and Chartwells’ regional staff have redeveloped and taste tested over 200 of Chartwells’ menu items in preparation for the new school year.

All three vendors will be required to purchase at least 20 percent of their ingredients from within 120 miles of the District. Local sourcing will enable DCPS to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables year-round, which will improve the overall taste and quality of each meal. Local food costs less, and buying local helps reduce DCPS’ carbon footprint, because less fuel is used to move the food from producer to customer.

The total expenditure on all three contracts is expected to be cost neutral. DCPS will continue to evaluate the service provided by all three vendors during the course of the school year and determine the most effective way to provide DC students with nutritious, high quality food service going forward.

Today, August 3 from 7-8 p.m. at 1200 First Street NE--Tony Tata, Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Mills, Director of Food Services, and Diana Bruce, Director of Health and Wellness will host a Food Services Round Table to discuss the school system’s vision for supporting the health and wellness of students. This is a public event at DCPS headquarters open to all DCPS families and community members.

LIST OF PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS

From Scratch: DC Central Kitchen Fresh Portable Meals: Revolution Foods
Kelly Miller Middle School Amidon-Bowen Elementary School
Thomas Elementary School Hearst Elementary School
Burrville Elementary School Anacostia High School
Aiton Elementary School Eastern High School
Kenilworth Elementary School Johnson Middle School
Marshall Elementary School Peabody Elementary School
Prospect Learning Center Woodrow Wilson High School


***DCPS Director of Food Services Jeffrey Mills is available for interviews. Please contact Jennifer Calloway at (202) 701-9364.***

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