July 6 Hearing on DCPS Food Contracts–Sign Up NOW

So, in a kerfluffle of activity last week, the city council received two proposed food contracts from DCPS for next school year (yes, the school year starting in, oh, 7 weeks), for which the council would have had 10 days to review and approve the contracts (or not).

That meant a deadline of July 4–after DCPS had promised the contracts mid-April.

Late last week, in the wake of protests from parents organized by the DC School Food Project, four councilmembers–Mary Cheh, Elissa Silverman, Kenyan McDuffie, and David Grosso, the education committee chair–filed a resolution to extend the council’s review time.

Now, the council’s deadline for contract approval is July 12, and David Grosso has scheduled a public hearing on the contracts at the council for 10 am on Wednesday July 6.

Bottom line: the deadline for signing up to testify is 5 pm on Monday July 4 (yes, you read that correctly, Independence Day).

While one can read all sorts of things into that July 4 deadline (independence from the food contracts brought about by DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who just announced her departure), the fact remains that July 4 is this coming Monday.

So, if you wish to testify, email the education committee director, Christina Henderson, directly (chenderson@DCCOUNCIL.US) or call her at 202-724-8061. Henderson noted that the council cannot change specifics within each contract–only approve or disapprove.

That said, there may be quite a bit to disapprove of:

One of the contracts is for $5 million, for DC Central Kitchen to provide food for 12 DCPS schools. The other 101 DCPS schools would be serviced under the proposed $35 million contract with Sodexho.

As Ivy Ken, member of the DC School Food Project, noted via email, “levels of transparency and accountability have been appallingly low” with regard to the entire process of getting a new DCPS food vendor in the wake of the Chartwells scandal.

With little publicly accessible concerning contract specifics (see here for Sodexo and here for DC Central Kitchen), Ken has raised a number of excellent questions, including who evaluated the bids; how each vendor scored; plans for Sodexo to honor labor agreements with the food service workers’ union; and Chancellor Henderson’s relationship with Sodexo partner Magic Johnson.

Expect more queries from all quarters before Chancellor Henderson’s (hasty?) departure on September 30.

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