In Michigan, Rep. Dave Agema has introduced HB 4306 that mandates the outsourcing of school support functions including custodial, transportation, and food services. This bill, in effect, ends school food service provided by a local director and staff. Local control and design and initiative would be eliminated as well.
These locally directed school meal programs have been critical to the spread of innovative farm-to-school programs. The major food service companies (Sodexo, Aramark and Chartwells) - have corporate overstructures and profit motives - that discourage innovation.
This opens the door for Chartwells, Aramark, and Sodexho to take over local school meal programs in the name of balancing the budget and ending public worker "tyranny" in the budget process.
We know that virtually all the innovation in farm-to-school programs has occurred in locally controlled school food programs. Without the creativity and diversity of locally controlled school food programs, the move to true local farm-to-school systems could be substantially thwarted.
In addition, with larger numbers of school systems under contract, food service management companies can demand even larger "promotion kickbacks" from national food companies. What corporate producer of industrial food wouldn't like to have their "chicken nuggets" in front of all the school children in America? So is the health of our children's lunches going to be decided by which corporation has the deepest pockets?
We consider this move, along with the Food Safety assault on local food, a major attack on a place-based local food approach to feeding our children and ourselves. The monoculture approach of industrial food production is not sustainable, not healthy, and ultimately, not affordable when all the environmental and health costs are considered. Child obesity is at unprecedented levels in this country as well as Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. in our children.
So as we watch the demonstrations in Madison and other state capitols, realize that the battle that is being fought is one over control of our children's school meals, as well.
Again, HB 4306 mandates the privatization of custodial, transportation, and food service functions. Please sign this petition to let Michigan, and the rest of the country know that you object to mandating the privatization of food service in our schools. The children of this country need your voice.
You can find the text of the full bill at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billintroduced/House/htm/2011-HIB-4306.htm
Mom and Child Advocate
Center for Economic Security
UPDATE: Read this -legislative analysis!! SCHOOLS: NO DIRECT EMPLOYMENT FOR FOOD, CUSTODIAL & TRANSPORT SERVICES House Bill 4306 Sponsor: Rep. David Agema Committee: Education Complete to 2-28-11 A SUMMARY OF HOUSE BILL 4306 AS INTRODUCED 2-22-11 The bill would prohibit a school district or intermediate school district from directly employing personnel to provide food service and custodial or transportation services. The bill is an amendment to the Revised School Code (MCL 380.1245) and applies as of June 30, 2012. The bill would require as of that date that the board of a school district or an intermediate school district enter into one or more contracts for the provision of those services. The bill requires that before entering into any contract described above, or the renewal of any such contract, the board obtain competitive bids on the provision of the services. Not later than January 1, 2012, the state school superintendent would be required to develop and make available to school districts a model competitive bidding process that could be used for the purposes of this subsection. That model could be based on the process for competitive bidding of construction contracts under Section 1267 of the Revised School Code. The bill also specifies that competitive bidding would not apply to contracts of less than $20,000. This threshold would be adjusted each year by an amount equal to the change in the Consumer Price Index. FISCAL IMPACT: The bill would have no fiscal impact on the State and an indeterminate fiscal impact on school districts. While privatization of certain non-instructional services and competitive bidding may allow districts to find savings, many districts have already moved in this direction when savings are to be found. Since 2003, the total number of active employees in MPSERS has dropped from its high of 327,000 to 242,500 in 2010. This reduction of almost 26% occurred over the same period while the pupil population declined by 7%. Some districts have found that maintaining district employees to perform these non-instructional services is less expensive than privatizing; thus, the bill could increase costs under certain circumstances by mandating the privatization of certain non-instructional services. Additionally, as the total payroll for school districts statewide diminishes, the required employer contribution rate for the Michigan Public School Employees' Retirement System (MPSERS) goes up in order to collect the required total contributions needed to fund the system. Legislative Analyst: J. Hunault Fiscal Analyst: Mary Ann Cleary Bethany Wicksall ■ This analysis was prepared by nonpartisan House staff for use by House members in their deliberations, and does not constitute an official statement of legislative intent.
Additionally, by outsourcing food service management to big companies, we will be decreasing the amount of fresh produce available to our children and inevitably increasing the amount of processed foods on the menus. With the skyrocketing and shameful rates of child obesity in this country, we should be putting forth legislation that protects our children and their health. This legislation will hurt the health of our children, our state, local and regional economies as well as the business of agriculture in general in Michigan.
Please stop HB 4306 and considering introducing legislation that supports farm to school initiatives and healthier choices for our children. They do not deserve to fall victim any more to balancing budgets.