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DOE decides to handle School Lunch “in-house”

Sodexo is no longer the contractor for the Department of Education’s federally funded school lunch program and the DOE will now handle the program “in-house”.

Sodexo, the U.S. based firm that has been managing the program for a couple of years, told vendors that effective Oct. 1 this year, the company “no longer has a contract with the School Lunch..” The company didn’t provide a reason and there was no immediate comment from Sodexo at press time.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, DOE deputy director of finance Russell Aab said the “Sodexo contract time frame had been fully executed as of September 30, 2012 and could not be simply renewed.”

“The only decision was whether or not to rebid the contract. Sodexo has provided invaluable services in the past years on operation of our School Lunch program and... we are confident that the program can now be handled in-house,” said Aab yesterday afternoon.

According to the budget book for fiscal year 2013 — which began on Oct. 1 this year — the Sodexo contract is $10.60 million and listed in the Contractual Service budget category, which has a total of $10.85 million, a drastic increase from FY 2012 of only $249,000.

Under the materials and supplies budget category, the FY 2013 proposal is $1.2 million but in FY 2012 it was $11.6 million.

During Fono joint budget hearings last month, this issue was raised by Rep. Pulele’iite L. Tufele, who wanted to know the reasons for such big differences in amounts for these two budget categories.

Aab explained that “under the new contract with Sodexo” the company is now the major purchaser of food for the program while in FY 2012, it was purchased by DOE and budgeted under materials and supplies for FY 2012.

“Since the Sodexo contract took effect, that money is included as part of their contract under contractual service” budget category, said Aab.

Pulele’iite followed up with the question, “So the $10 plus million is the cost of food and professional service? to which Aab replied “yes”.

Other budget requests under contractual service are: $75,000 for pest control; $120,000 for security services; and $60,000 for refrigeration & air condition contract.

Under equipment budget category, the program requests $100,000 for a delivery truck and $200,000 for kitchen appliances.

Meanwhile, the Procurement Office issued today a request for bids (IFB) to provide “various food commodities, including milk, juice and water” for the DOE School Lunch Program covering Nov. 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013.

Bids will be received at Procurement Office until 2 p.m. local time on Oct. 26, with a mandatory pre-bidding meeting set for Oct. 17. More information on this is available at Procurement Office.