Lunch losses slow under Sodexo

By Laurie Hamame -

It’s still losing money, but the Oberlin City Schools lunch program is getting much closer to breaking even.

The district and Sodexo, its food service provider, have worked to increase breakfast and lunch participation for the past two years.

Sodexo delivers healthy meal options based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition guidelines. The food quality has improved so more students are eating, said district treasurer Angela Dotson.

“We now have the buying power of Sodexo, which means we’re spending less on food. They have the ability to purchase food for many schools districts,” she said.

In the past, Oberlin lost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Former superintendent John Schroth saw a need to try something different with the food service program. While other companies applied, Sodexo was ultimately chosen because of its proven track record with Lorain County JVS. The company’s proximity to Oberlin also allows for a supervisor on sight, which Dotson said is a plus.

However, she doesn’t believe the Oberlin school system will ever make money from student lunches. That’s because so many students eat for free.

A community eligibility program, where every student at Prospect Elementary eats for free, was adopted this past school year and the district isn’t being reimbursed at the full pay rate.

“The reimbursement for those lunches aren’t as much as if every student in that building were eligible for free lunch,” said Dotson.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or at @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame