How Schools Retain Control of Their Meal Program

A Partnership with Whitsons Can Be Key to Improving the Student Experience

Posted on February 4, 2021

The first priority of any school district is to create a nurturing environment that enables students to learn while providing confidence for parents to know their children are in the right hands.

A lot of effort goes into creating such an environment, so the less distractions you have, the better the experience will be.

A major contributing factor to student success is proper nutrition. Managing meal programs, however, can be an incredibly complex task.

Many districts struggle to provide the required resources cost-effectively resulting in an operating loss to the food fund.


According to the School Nutrition Association, districts are experiencing declining revenue and higher pandemic meal costs, 54% of school meal programs reported a financial loss in SY 2019/20 and 62% anticipate a loss for SY 2020/21. source


Your Community Knows Your Students Best

When it comes to the operation of a “Best in Class” School Nutrition Program, districts are faced with two primary choices:

1. Develop and commit resources outside your district’s core education competency to operate a highly regulated food service that requires industry specific purchasing, human resources management, workman compensation, culinary training, financial management, marketing, recipe development, quality assurance, food safety, technology and food sourcing with no performance or financial guarantees.

2. Or, work with Whitsons to manage all of the above components, while improving the nutrition of the meals you provide and reducing the financial burden of your school meal program.

Many schools have a few key concerns when it comes to outsourcing their meal program, and they’re right to ask these questions prior to entering into any new agreement:

  • Will our school maintain control over the meal operations?
  • Will my current staff be retained if we hire Whitsons?
  • How will nutrition quality, flexibility and customization be impacted by Whitsons?
  • Don’t contractors just make more money as the kids’ experience declines?
  • Will our costs increase upon hiring Whitsons?

Many school systems opt to manage these programs on their own so they can remain in control of the meal program for their students, but one school’s needs do not necessarily equate to that of another school.

While it’s true that your community knows itself best, there are many advantages to using a contracted partner to assist with your meal program.


Students Thrive When Their Community Stays in Control

The first step Whitsons takes when entering into a new partnership is to sit down with the district to learn about their current approach, their preferences and desires--and most importantly--their students!

Not only does your district not lose decision making power, but you are empowered to design your ideal meal program through the subject matter expertise that Whitsons brings.

Whitsons works with you to design the optimal program based on all the preferences and requirements of your community:

Will our school maintain control over the meal operations?


Yes. Whitsons meets with your team regularly to make key decisions together. Then, we design solutions to fit your needs. Furthermore, all team members are empowered to share their insight into the community, which helps us to develop a customized program for your district with your stamp of approval.

Will my current staff be retained if we hire Whitsons?


Yes. We embrace all team members as part of the Whitsons family, whether they are district-employed or transitioned to the Whitsons team.

How will nutrition quality, flexibility and customization be impacted by Whitsons?


We source local, fresh ingredients and do as much scratch-cooking as possible onsite. Specific meal preferences are built into your program and can be adjusted, as necessary.

Don’t contractors just make more money as the kids’ experience declines?


No. Whitsons is not financially incentivized to minimize our level of service to increase our own profits; our focus is on enhancing the experience for your students. We provide high quality service at a reasonable rate, simplifying your school meal program. Quality and fiscal responsibility are not mutually exclusive in our relationships.

Will our costs increase upon hiring Whitsons?


No. Not only does your district remain in control of your student meal experience while outsourcing the day-to-day operations, Whitsons can simultaneously reduce your program costs while improving the nutritional value of your meals.


Communities Thrive When Schools Thrive

We recognize the hesitations that schools have to bringing in an outside partner to help with any aspect of the nutrition program. Your dedication to your community is what drives us to do our best work every day, and it’s why we love partnering with school communities.

The reality of a contracted partnership with Whitsons looks a lot different than many expect. We would be happy to answer your questions and share more about the Whitsons experience.

For more information about our school nutrition program, please visit our site: