Out of the 538 districts that responded to the survey, 43% — 233 schools — contract out for food services. This is a slight increase from 2018. Food service used to be the most common privatized service, but custodial contracting surpassed it in 2012.
Graphic 2: Food Service Contracting, 2005-2019
There were four districts that started new food service contracts in 2019 and three that brought the service back in-house.
Beaver Island Community School added a new food service coordinator. Clarenceville School District contracted with Southwest Food to provide food services but did not disclose the reason for the decision. Pentwater Public Schools recently outsourced their food services indirectly: it contracted with Hart Public Schools which itself contracts out to a private provider. This decision was made following the retirement of Pentwater’s in-house food director, and the move is expected to save the district money moving forward. Highland Park Schools replaced its charter school management company, and the new private management company provides food service for the district. Its previous charter management company had contracted with Detroit Public Schools Community District to provide school lunches.
Districts that brought services back in-house include Houghton Portage Township Schools, which ended its contract with employee leasing agency Good Marks for Schools and expects to save money from the move. Perry Public Schools brought their food-service director back in-house but declined to provide a reason for the switch. Vanderbilt Area Schools brought its food services back in-house after officials reported that their prior food service provider decided to discontinue providing services to the school.