New food provider gives chance to former Sodexo employees

Employees of the Shelton school district’s previous food provider, Sodexo, have been offered positions by its newly announced provider.

Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet announced that Whitsons Culinary Group is the new food provider for Shelton Public Schools at the Board of Education’s most recent meeting and said that all of Sodexo’s Shelton employees have the opportunity to maintain their positions.

“They did apply and virtually all of them will be receiving a job offer from Whitsons, as well as our former director, that is the food services coordinator Linda Stanisci. She’s also been hired,” said Clouet.

A group of nearly 25 Sodexo employees came to a May Board of Ed meeting to plead with the board members to consider extending the district’s contract with the company to save their health care.

Ultimately, the decision to extend the contract with Sodexo fell through, but the company has agreed to fund its departing employees’ health care agreements until Whitsons takes over in August.

The decision to grant Whitsons the multi-year contract came after the multi-year contract with Sodexo came to an end at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Clouet said he’s anticipating “a very smooth transition.”

“The kids will know their lunch ladies and the lunch ladies will know the kids, which is very important to us,” said Clouet.

Clouet explained that every couple of years the contract is put out to bid to make sure they’re getting the best quality for the students and using taxpayer money in the most efficient way as possible.

Before making its decision on Whitsons, Clouet said he was a part of several visits to other districts to get an idea of the vendor's performance.

“Whitsons has a very impressive operation in both Hamden and Westport. We feel like they're a good fit for the district,” said Clouet. “They have a big focus on healthy food and we think they’re going to offer our students some choices that will be helpful and engaging for the students. We look forward to doing business with them.”

According to an informational packet provided to the city’s education board, Whitsons’ program goals are to provide students with “creative nutritionally sound” meals, motivate them to choose more fresh fruit and vegetables with their meals, and encourage healthier lifelong eating habits.

Whitsons representatives will appear at the BoE Aug. 23 meeting to display samples of its menu to the board and public.