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ASD to form Food Service committee

What should Ashland school cafeterias serve and how much should the district fork over to pay for it?

That's a question school district officials hope to answer through a new Food Service Study Committee that will form this summer.

The ten members of the committee will be tasked with creating a food service program that is healthier and cheaper than the one the district uses now.

Since 2005, the district has hired Sodexo Inc. to manage its school cafeterias, while employing its own food service workers — a system that costs the district more money each year.

In an effort to cut expenses, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro recommended in April that the district outsource all cafeteria operations to Sodexo for a fixed cost each year.

However, after hearing pleas from cafeteria workers who didn't want to lose their jobs and parents who didn't want their students eating Sodexo food, school board members decided to keep the district's current system for a year — in order to study how to make it better.

At Monday's 7 p.m. board meeting at the Civic Center, Di Chiro will present an outline of what district officials hope the committee will accomplish. According to the outline, the committee members will be tasked with finding a food service model that focuses on fresh, healthy and local foods; uses staff effectively; increases student participation in the schools' breakfast and lunch programs; and is revenue-neutral. The district receives state and federal funding for its cafeteria program and also makes money from food sales.

Committee members will present the results of their research to the school board in December.

The committee will be made up of two school board members, one district administrator, two high school students, one district staff member and four community members with experience managing food services.

Community members interested in joining the volunteer committee can pick up an application at the District Office, 885 Siskiyou Blvd., or print one out from the district's Web site, www.ashland.k12.or.us, beginning June 12. The applications will be due Aug. 1 and the school board will appoint members to the committee on Aug. 10.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.