The Dallastown Area School Board decided to continue using its new food service vendor after deciding a year ago to outsource the work.
Chartwells got a one-year contract renewal from the board in a 7-1 vote, with Don Jasmann the lone dissenter, according to Acting Superintendent Ron Dyer.
Dallastown decided before this school year to switch from its in-house operation to Chartwells, which promised to help the district turn a profit from its food service program.
Early indications show the program should end up in the black this year, Dyer said, although he cautioned that meal programs traditionally take a dip in profits at the end of the school year, so results are still up in the air. The transition to an outside company hasn't been entirely smooth, although a committee is now examining ways to improve service next year, Dyer said.
Issues came up such as what is a reimbursable meal and what is an a la carte purchase, Dyer said.
But he said the quality of the food is very good, such as homemade pizzas.
"Most everything is made from scratch," Dyer said. "You're not getting the same level of preservatives."
Chartwells and the district are also adjusting to ongoing federal changes to make school meals healthier, he added.
The schools are trying to figure out how to control portion sizes, which in the short term has meant taking away some of the self-service food stations, Dyer said.
Dime more: Those federal regulations also prompted the school board to approve a 10-cent increase in the cost of meals across all schools.
"We're reflecting the cost of food as much as families are reflecting it at home," Dyer said.
He emphasized the cost increase was not Chartwells driven, as the district has to comply with laws on keeping its weighted average meal price high enough to qualify for the federal reimbursement rate.
Dallastown's average was $1.99 as of this school year, about 6 cents less than the federal requirement for next year.
The 2011-12 rate is $1.85 for elementary lunch and $2.05 for secondary lunch. Those rates, as well as breakfast rates, will go up by a dime next year.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ydblogwork