GRAND LEDGE —-Thanks to a free analysis by Canteen Services, Michigan's largest food service management company, the Grand Ledge Board of Education may end up contracting out the operation of its schools' cafeterias. The Board gave the green light in early May to solicit proposals to privatize its public school lunch program.

Canteen officials, according to a May 5 story in the Grand Ledge Independent, advised the board that the district's lunch participation is "low" and its breakfast participation is "extremely low." The district's employees serve 17.5 meals per hour, a low productivity rate compared to the 25 meals per hour for Canteen's programs.

Of the 121 school districts in Michigan that contract out for food service, Canteen provides management to 70 of them. The company's $80 million worth of food business ($35 million of it in schools) enables it to benefit from volume discounts on food purchases, helping to cut costs for schools

Canteen, a nonunion firm, formerly provided food service even for the Michigan Education Association's sprawling East Lansing headquarters.