On the heels of a school year that required an array of budget cuts and the possibility of hiking the parcel tax, the is switching lunch providers for its six schools, citing financial savings and “dissatisfaction” with the provider of the past two years, Revolution Foods.
The school board approved the switch to San Ramon-based Choicelunch last month, backing the recommendation of Michele Rollins, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services. The agreement is for one year.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to serve Mill Valley families,” said Karen Heller of ChoiceLunch.
Rollins said cost was the driving force behind the move, as ChoiceLunch’s bid saves the district 35 cents on every free and reduced lunch under the federally subsidized program for low-income residents. ChoiceLunch does, however, raise the price for parents by as much as $2 per lunch, depending on what type of lunch is ordered. Approximately 16 percent of students in the district bought school lunches during the 2010-2011 school year, Rollins said.
Rollins said that while cost was the driver of the move, the district had come to realize that there was a consistent level of dissatisfaction with Revolution Foods, particularly in terms of its produce and its packaging.
"But I give them credit because they really tried over the two years they were with us to offer our students a quality product,” Rollins said. “For us, if we can cut out costs and maintain a high quality lunch service that makes it a priority to use sustainable and local produce, that has to be a priority for us.”
Heller said ChoiceLunch uses local organic and sustainable produce as often as possible, and has started working with Marin Organics.
“And if there is a fresh fruit or vegetable in our bin and it’s on the dirty dozen, the produce that is most heavily sprayed, it will be organic or certified pesticide free,” she said.
, a Mill Valley resident, said in a statement the company responded to many suggestions from Mill Valley parents and implemented many new programs as a result, including sliced fruit as sides, new packaging that is kid friendly and partnering with .
“Revolution Foods is disappointed we were not selected as this year’s vendor for the Mill Valley School District,” she said. “This is a shared sentiment from many parents, who have written to us over the last few weeks when they heard of the change. We look forward to renewing a relationship with MVSD in the future and welcome the opportunity to serve the community.”
Heller said that ChoiceLunch plans to maintain a relationship with Stefano’s, and she listed mac-n-cheese, pizza, chicken tenders, potstickers and burritos as the most popular items of the firm’s offering.
Heller noted some additional, parent-friendly features, such as the ability to order a meal up to 9 p.m. the morning before and canceling with full credit up to 9 a.m. the same day. She also said the company would be debuting a mobile phone app this summer, allowing parents to order with their phones.