Skip to comments.School Board wants better than the usual cafeteria food
Posted on 12/28/2003 10:11:32 AM PST by Holly_P
PORTSMOUTH School cafeteria food has long suffered a bad rep among students, but in Portsmouth some unusual voices are joining the chorus of complainers.
Members of the School Board are grumbling about the food prepared by the divisions cooks and served at their biweekly meetings. The rolls may be buttery and the vegetables tasty, but the chicken is bland, and the desserts disappointing, the food critics say.
Some board members have informally discussed dropping the divisions food services and hiring local downtown restaurants to cater the meetings.
This is going downhill, Chairwoman Elizabeth N. Betty Hudgins said about her meal at a recent board meeting.
Hudgins said next year she wants the board to mull over switching caterers. Hudgins suggested hiring different downtown restaurants to prepare food for each meeting. Chinese for one meeting, Italian for the next.
I would like to support our downtown businesses, she said.
The division would have to study the cost of using outside vendors, Hudgins added. Not everybody is ready to drop the divisions cooks.
Board member Elizabeth Daniels said the board should be more specific about what it wants to eat.
If you dont specify what you want, youre going to get the stuff nobody else wants, she said.
Cost and loyalty enticed the School Board earlier this year to use school cooks to cater meetings. From July to November the division spent about $1,150 on food for the nine board members and a handful of administrators. When the board used an outside vendor a year ago it spent $2,400 for the same number of meals.
School boards in Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Chesapeake and Norfolk also use their divisions cafeteria services to cater their meals. The menus are similar to Portsmouths.
The cafeteria meals follow the U.S. Department of Agricultures traditional food pyramid and consist of a meat, vegetable, potato, roll and dessert.
In Portsmouth, the food is prepared the afternoon of the meeting in the kitchens of local schools. The meals are similar to what students receive in the lunchroom but designed for adults, said Kenneth L. Billue, the coordinator of the divisions cafeteria and food services division. Students may get chicken nuggets, while board members get chicken fillets.
Its generally the standards; its nothing fancy, Billue said. In an age of dieting, whether its Atkins or South Beach, the standard foods are losing ground.
It would be an improvement even if they did a tureen of soup and a nice piece of bread and tossed greens. Thats basic stuff, said board member Mark R. DiVenuti, the former director of catering at Portsmouths Renaissance Hotel. You dont want to sit there with a big full stomach and a full agenda. And depending what the agenda is you dont want to have to reach for the Rolaids.
Billue said he is willing to change the menu if he gets any requests, and its the School Boards prerogative to change caterers.
Reach Deirdre Fernandes at 222-5121 or deirdre.fernandes@ pilotonline.com
Or better yet - brown bag it.