Private Food Service: Michigan School Districts Eat up Savings

Click for audio Private Food Service: Michigan School Districts Eat up Savings

Hundreds of thousands of Michigan public school students who once dismissed their school-run cafeteria food as "mystery meat" are now eating their words—along with delicious meals served by private food service companies.

Over 120 Michigan school districts are using privatization—the private management of public services—to save money and improve the quality of their school lunch programs.

One such district is Kalamazoo-area Marcellus schools, which recently turned its money-losing lunch program over to Chartwells, the world's largest food service provider. Chartwells erased the program's $30,000 annual deficit and made it profitable for the first time in 10 years—all while improving the quality of food and service students receive.

Private food service providers have strong incentives to continually improve their services because school districts can terminate their contracts whenever a company fails to meet high customer satisfaction or health standards.

Muskegon schools recently did just that when they switched to Chartwells from another private company. The district now saves over $65,000 annually to spend on textbooks, lab equipment, and other educational materials.

Privatization allows students to enjoy better meals while schools save money to focus on better education.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.