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Lunch is served, with more items

December 11, 2003

Robert Chacon

The guarantee of better school lunches that will entice more students

to stay on campus for lunch led the local school board to approve a

new contract with a private food-service consultant.

The terms of the contract with Maryland-based Sodexho, one of the

largest school lunch consultants in the country, are based on

projections of sales of school lunches. La Canada Unified School

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District will pay the company 8.5 cents per meal it sells, plus a

consultation fee of $65,000.

The district will purchase food through the distributors that

Sodexho contracts. The agreement takes effect Jan. 1, and is

renewable on a yearly basis. The district had been purchasing the

food on its own through different vendors.

With an average 12% of the district's 4,200 students buying

lunches each day, the school will pay Sodexho about $835,000 during

the first year. During Tuesday's board meeting, Sodexho

representatives said the company would increase student participation

to 20%.

Sodexho will increase the items on the daily menus and their

nutritional value, said Herman Lozano, an account executive with the

company.

"The district's elementary schools serve two menus daily, we would

like to increase that to five," Lozano said. "At the high school, we

would like to increase their menu to 15 different items daily."

Menu items could include teriyaki chicken and barbecue burgers.

A majority of students at La Canada High School have opted to

drive off campus for lunch to eateries along Foothill Boulevard.

Having an open campus makes it tougher to lure students to eat

cafeteria food, but district officials do not have plans to close the

campus at lunchtime.

The district also hopes to increase teacher purchases of school

lunches. The district will allow local restaurants to continue

selling food on campus.

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