One bite at a time

Reporter observes fixes to be made for small restaurant support in PISD


Dana Garcia

Students sit in the Rock Hill High School cafeteria during lunch. “Aramark designs and creates all of the food options available, except for Pizza Hut and Sonic at Rock Hill and Pizza Hut and Burger King at Prosper HS,” Deputy Superintendent of Prosper ISD, Dr.Greg Bradley said. “These fast food chains sought the opportunity to be included in our high school offerings.”

Dana Garcia, Staff Reporter

Small businesses in the Prosper Independent School District contribute financially to the district, but only large corporations represent the food choices in the cafeteria. Likewise, when PISD is looking for financial support, most money comes from locally-owned small businesses. Yet, the representation of those same businesses in PISD operations is relatively nonexistent.

Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE) is a culinary-based food service management company for K-12 nutrition. They have been expanding throughout multiple districts since its start in 2004. However, this year, PISD, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the federal government changed their food program to Aramark. 

Aramark is another American food service that provides uniform services to clients in the school system, health care, corporate businesses, corrections, etc. The money made from Aramark in the cafeteria is split between the salaries provided to the employees, kitchen supplies and PISD. 

“Aramark is responsible for all the management of our food service, but must answer to PISD administration,” Deputy Superintendent of Prosper ISD, Dr.Greg Bradly said, “We meet often to discuss trends in purchasing and offering new options and recently we have had an emphasis on trying to provide healthier options that students enjoy.”

Since Rock Hill High School is widely populated, it would cost the restaurants a large sum of money if small businesses were to fund their venture in the RHHS cafeteria.

I know since we are such a large school district, most of the local and small businesses wouldn’t be able to support the volume of products we need,” RHHS principal Dustin Toth said, “We do use local vendors for some supply items and products that aren’t as high in volume.”

The financial aspect of Aramark in the school district is something the school funding process controls. The state government provides money for the school cafeteria and limits the money potentially profited by the district. All the money made from the cafeteria and food services is later spent on kitchen appliances and paying employees working for the program. 

If small restaurants join the RHHS cafeteria, PISD would be able to provide support for the business. 

“RH does make money, so we would recommend [small restaurant businesses] to come one or two days a week, so I think that would be the deal. So if those programs agree and come in, they would be supported financially,” Chief Financial Officer of Prosper ISD, Dr.Kyle Penn, said. 

Dr. Penn has another plan in mind if the trial basis is not successful as proposed.

“If it gets to the point where they come one day a week, and nobody buys from them, they lose money. Then we would say, ‘Look, we have tried for a couple of months, and you lost money.’ So the days they are here, they would be supported and want to.” Dr.Penn said.

We might see future food organizations in RHHS, so a plan with rules and regulations would be set to make the experience beneficial for all parties involved.

“What I want to see is that [restaurants] have multiple locations in Texas because it’s a big operation to feed this many students every day,” Dr.Penn said. “To have the power to do that is big. I want to see a proven track record if you will do what you say you’re going to do.”

After reaching out to a representative from Aramark, we did not receive confirmation of response at this time.