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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

3 bidders seeking food service pact

By Elizabeth Benton
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— After four extensions pushed the initial deadline back over a month, final bids from companies vying for the city’s school food service contract were due Tuesday.
City purchasing agent Michael Fumiatti will read the three submitted proposals before passing them to a review committee.
The city received bids from current contract holder Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp, New York-based Chartwells, and New York-based Whitsons Culinary Group.
Fumiatti also met with representatives from four firms Tuesday interested in the school facilities and energy management contract, also currently handled by Aramark.
Bids are due April 29, and only the four firms in attendance at Tuesday’s 11-minute meeting may apply.
Interested firms include Aramark, Branford-based OR&L Facility Services, Maryland-based Sodexo, and Bridgeport-based AFB Construction Management.
Representatives questioned Fumiatti briefly on details of the city’s request for proposals, asking for a list of school buildings, Aramark’s current agreement, details of minimum staffing requirements and current energy costs.
Facing mounting union discontent, New Haven Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo announced earlier this year the district would re-bid the food service and facilities management contracts. It’s been several years since the city re-bid either contract, Fumiatti said.
New contracts begin July 1.
The aldermanic Education Committee held a public hearing last month on food and facilities management, but continued the hearing after school and Aramark officials did not attend. Aldermen have requested Aramark’s contracts, expenses, and an audit of the school lunch program, and asked for the bid process to be suspended until committee members could meet with school officials regarding the bid process.
The continued hearing is slated for 5:30 p.m. April 29 at City Hall, where a resolution calling for “broader standards in review of proposals” and a full aldermanic hearing on the food and facilities contracts is expected to be considered.
But according to Fumiatti, once the bids are opened, it’s too late to change the review process. “The only thing that could happen could be negotiated in or out with the selected vendor,” he said.
“We never had any direct authority over what the school system does in terms of bidding this out to begin with,” said Aldermanic President Carl Goldfield, D-29. “You’re not going to turn around this ship and get the kind of food service and food I’d like to see the schools engage in overnight. The kind of standards we’re talking about aren’t necessarily going to be applied this bidding cycle,” he said.
Elizabeth Benton can be reached at 789-5714 or ebenton@nhregister.com.

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