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Fort Wayne Community Schools board approves large grocery list of purchases for school meals

(Courtesy of Fort Wayne Community Schools)

When you expect to feed about 26,000 kids a day, you need a lot of food and supplies.

The Fort Wayne Community Schools board approved a grocery list of purchases during their meeting Monday night at Grile Administration Center:

• A combined total of more than $4.5 million with three food providers for 403 types of food items, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, flour, sugar and salt, from Aug. 1 through July 31, 2019. The food will come from Commercial Food Service of Indianapolis, Gordon Food Service of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Stanz Food Service of South Bend.

• A combined total of more than $552,000 to the same three companies for bottled water and juice.

• A combined total of more than $197,600 to three companies for disposable products such as containers made from pressed paperboard, aluminum and plastic. The companies are Webco Packaging of Fort Wayne, Acorn Paper & Restaurant Supply Co. of Indianapolis, and Pathway Solutions of Sacramento, Calif.

• A fee of $1.1 million for an estimated 5.7 million half-pint cartons of milk from Prairie Farms Dairy of Fort Wayne for FWCS schools and locations and six private schools.

The companies providing the food, drinks and disposable items are the lowest responsible bidders. The milk purchase is an extension of the existing contract.

A federal grant pays for all of the meals provided to the students through grade 12, Candice Hagar, FWCS’ Nutrition Services director, said in answer to a board member’s question.

In response to other questions, Hagar said the district hasn’t tried switching to biodegradable or recyclable food and serving containers because they cost significantly more than disposable items.

The school district also hasn’t switched to paper straws, but the plastic straws students receive are small, Hagar said.

In other business, the board:

• Approved spending $206,161 for replacing and upgrading the security camera system at Northrop High School. The work will be done in phases as part of the current major renovation of Northrop and should be substantially completed by July 30, 2020.

• Approved paying $77,000 for a house and property at 2105 Steup Ave. to add to the grounds at Price Elementary School at West State Boulevard and Tyler Avenue. The state recommends a minimum size of 10 acres for elementary school grounds, and the new purchase still will leave Price about 1.7 acres below that recommended size.

FWCS eventually hopes to use the land to build a parent pick-up lane at Price, but that project isn’t in the budget right now, said Darren Hess, FWCS director of facilities. FWCS staff will check what work may be needed on the house and then, if the house is suitable, will try to rent it out until the district is ready to build the pick-up lane, Hess said.

• Met in a work session meeting before the regular school board meeting to receive an update on legislation affecting education that was passed during the 2018 session of the Indiana state legislature and its recent special session.

Justin Swanson, a vice president with Bose Public Affairs Group, a company the district hires to help it with monitoring proposed legislation and lobbying legislators, suggested now through October is the best time for district officials to lobby state legislators regarding education issues that could come up in the 2019 state legislative session.

State legislators must draw up a state budget during the 2019 session, so their focus will be on that work, which could impact education funding and how that money is used, Swanson said.

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