The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Time to Take a Stand for Better D.C. School Food

February 29th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Posted in kids, school food

What's for lunch these days? Tilapia

Here’s one thing for sure: Lining the pockets of big corporate vendors is not a path to a sustainable school food system. D.C. officials made that mistake four years ago when they opted to hire Chartwells to run the city’s cafeterias. Now D.C. Public Schools are staring at a $14 million hole in their budget. The problem Chartwells was supposed to solve has only gotten worse.

But schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson would continue down that path. She refuses to listen to a plan to bring school meal production back in-house where it belongs. Instead, she’s ordered her staff to put meal service out for bid again. That may work temporarily, but concerned parents and food activists across the city are asking Henderson to think again and start the process of building a self-operating meals program.

D.C. is one of only a few large school districts nationwide that outsource their food service to companies like Chartwells, Sodexo and Aramark. Most districts know that the only way to feed kids well economically is by running their own kitchens. But making the switch takes lots of planning. It takes an entire community rallying around the important business of how we feed out kids.

That’s where you come in. Add your voice to those demanding that we keep the momentum going behind the recent improvements we’ve seen in D.C. school meals. Sign this petition and send Chancellor Henderson a message: We want our dollars used to put better food on kids’ plates, not for shareholder profits.

You can read more about this issue here and here. Details about the new DCPS school meals “mega contract” is contained in the recently published “request for proposal.”

Leave a Comment

Please note: Your comment may have to wait for approval to be published to ensure that we don't accidentally publish "spam". We thank you for understanding.


  • Nancy Shia

    With the unemployment rate as high as it is in DC, why can’t they get lunch catered by people in the neighborhood?

  • Ed Bruske

    In fact, Nancy, many of the city’s charter schools–each of which acts as its own school food authority–are fed by small, local caterers.That’s not the case with D.C. Public Schools, which obviously operate on a huge scale. Most of the schools are served meals by Chartwells, as I’ve written about on this blog numerous times. Fourteen of those schools as part of a pilot program receive meals from either Revolution Foods, a California-based company that makes meals locally in a facility in Glen Burnie, and by D.C. Central Kitchen, which trains ex-offenders as chefs. The “request for proposal” I referenced in this article would allow other contractors to bid on the food service on any number of the 128 DCPS schools.