School board says yes to new interschool food cooperative

Huntington County Community School Corporation will soon have some food buying power at its fingertips, after the board of school trustees voted to join an interschool food co-op.

The agreement for the “Food2School Purchasing Cooperative” passed unanimously at the board’s regular meeting Monday, Jan. 28, adding HCCSC to a list of more than 225 schools affecting some 138,000 students in 55 districts across Indiana, as well as boasting an estimated buying power of $20 million.

The move will allow the corporation’s food service department to procure food, supplies, material, equipment and other services that pertain to the food service operation while saving money through negotiation and buying power of competitive sealed proposals from vendors.

“It allows the schools to go out one time and get bid pricing for food that we use in our cafeteria, which, because of multiple schools going together, it allows us to get the best price possible for the schools, and save us money,” explained Superintendent Randy Harris.

Harris also said going with the new cooperative will likely affect the price of school lunches. He used the cost of a pound of hamburger as an example.

“If we’re able to buy it 10 cents cheaper then that allows us to save that money, so we don’t need to raise prices for school lunches,” he said.

“It’s not a guarantee that prices aren’t going to go up, because if everything goes up then school lunch prices do, too, but it gives us the best chance to keep prices as low as possible to appropriately feed our students.”

The program states it also reduces the administrative workload of school food service departments, allowing for more efficient use of time.

Director of Food Service Ken Akins says HCCSC had belonged to a smaller cooperative, but the Food2School program will save even more money to the corporation.

“It’s in the thousands of dollars,” he said. “We did a study quite a few years ago, and it was easily $30,000 just because of the pricing we got with the groups. This is even a bigger group than we’ve been in in the past. I’m anticipating we will even save some more money.”

There will be no fee to join the co-op. The agreement covers the 2018-19 school year. The Hospital Purchasing Service (HPS), of Michigan, was chosen as the primary vendor for this school year.

Among area school corporations who are also members of Food2School are Adams Central, East Allen, Marion Community, MSD of Wabash County and Wabash City Schools, Northern and Southern Wells, Northwest and Southwest Allen County, Whitko, Whitley County, Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers, with Warsaw Community Schools serving as the lead district for the cooperative.

If the cooperative doesn’t work out, HCCSC will have the option to withdraw from the interlocal agreement with 30 days’ written notice.

Among consent agenda items before the board, the resignation of Roanoke Principal Seth Parker was accepted. Harris said Parker will work through his contract, which ends June 30.

Also accepted by the board was a donation of $600 by Bobby Blair, owner of Hidden Moon Studio, LLC, to be used for an art contest to promote “What it Means to be a Viking.”

Another donation, a 2005 Buick Rendezvous valued at about $2,500, was accepted from Brian and Betsy Royer, to be used for instructional purposes in the introductory automotive courses.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the meeting was the sudden power outage that occurred in Warren, leaving Salamonie Elementary School – and those present at the school board meeting inside – to use their laptop computers and cell phones to provide light in conducting the hastened conclusion of the meeting. The outage also affected the livestream video and recording of the meeting, which will not be available on the HCCSC website.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. at Salamonie Elementary School.