Roanoke City Schools approves privatizing school lunches

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The Roanoke City School Board voted unanimously to privatize the school system's food service.

The move will bring in the company Sodexo to manage all of the breakfast and lunches served at Roanoke's 27 schools.

"It's really appalling that we're going to outsource our money and our tax payer dollars to a company that's multi-national, a France multi-national company, and it just brings a lot of concern for local business," Lucas Fitz, a 2013 graduate said.

One of those businesses is owned by Fred Najjum. His company, Roanoke Fruit and Produce, has been serving the school system for more than 30 years.

"With the management company, any management company, you have to become an approved vendor, which requires a lot of paperwork, a lot of jumping through hoops, et cetera. It usually involves payment to that company to be an approved vendor on a per case basis. Things like that concern me," Najjum said.

Board Chair Suzanne Moore said it was a tough decision, but in the end, came down to cost.

"The board wanted to make sure that we had covered all bases and that we had given our current staff a chance to compete, but we found that the cost was prohibitive," Moore said.

Moore said the schools would have been looking at an increase in costs of more than $500,000 had they not gone with Sodexo.

Now, the school system will move into a 60-day period to review the performance of the new company, where they can pull out at any time.