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DCPS: 15 salad bars unused because of contract dispute

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Fifteen of the 22 salad bars donated to DC Public Schools' cafeterias have been sitting unused all year because of a contract dispute with the schools' food vendor, a school system spokeswoman said.

As a result of the conflict with Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, at least one donor said others are reluctant to invest in the District's school system.

Melissa Salmanowitz, a spokeswoman for DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, said she was confident the standoff would be resolved by next school year.

Not so salad days
Schools with donated salad bars that aren't being used:
School Ward
Brent Elementary 6
Bruce Monroe Elementary 1
Francis Scott Key Elementary 3
Garfield Elementary 8
Lafayette Elementary 4
Montessori at Logan 6
Peabody Early Childhood 6
Langdon Elementary 5
Shepherd Elementary 4
Randle Highlands Elementary 7
Beers Elementary 7
Stanton Elementary 8
Hendley Elementary 8
Powell Elementary 4
Patterson Elementary 8
Source: United Fresh Produce Association

"We had to clarify how the salad bar would be incorporated into the school meal pattern and its corresponding staffing and product requirements," Salmanowitz told The Washington Examiner. As for next year, "We are working on it."

In a statement, company President and Chairman Warren Thompson maintained that only five salad bars were not being used, either because there was no space for them on the serving line or because the salad bar "does not fit through [the] doorway of [the] cafeteria."

The 22 salad bars were donated by "Let's Move Salad Bars To School," an initiative created by several nonprofit organizations to support first lady Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity. Lorelei DiSogra, the vice president of nutrition and health at the United Fresh Produce Association, said the salad bars were a $100,000 investment.

"We have additional donors that want to donate to D.C., but obviously all of that is stopped," DiSogra told the D.C. Council at a hearing on the Chartwells contract.

The contract came under significant fire from council members, who jumped on the meals program for losing more than $10 million a year while the school system in Montgomery County turns a $2 million profit on its food service.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh called the contract an "abomination" and questioned why Chartwells, contracted to serve 50 million meals for $42 million over a five-year period, only served 35 million meals but charged $49 million.

Thompson said he believes the city's audit of the contract was flawed and is not consistent with the vendor's own numbers.

The school system currently operates 18 salad bars and expects to have 31 up and running next year, Salmanowitz said.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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