The Lake County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a food service contract with Summit Food Service at an annual cost of $1.1 million, and an expected per meal cost of roughly $1.22.
Commissioner Michael Repay, D-Hammond, said food service operations are best left to the private sector, and the county, under its current process, is subject to fluctuations in food prices with six-month contracts.
Repay said he thinks the new operation would be more efficient and save money for the county.
“While it is recognized that Summit had the highest per meal cost of the four companies, it is the best qualified company given its overall performance record at other correctional facilities, positive references, and its extensive medical and religious diet menus,” Martinez said, in a letter to the commissioners. “For these reasons, we have a high degree of confidence that this company will provide high quality food service to the Lake County Jail with minimal inmate grievances and litigation concerns.”
The jail feeds an average daily inmate population of 850, according to a memo, and provides roughly 80 staff meals.
The jail’s projected 2019 budget for running its own food service operation was roughly $2.2 million. That included $203,979 for eight staff positions; $163,800 for health insurance; $15,300 for FICA; and $1,825,000 for food costs, according to a memo.
Repay asked if the current kitchen staff would be reassigned to other duties in the jail.
Warden Michael Zenk said Summit will provide its own employees, but it’s possible the jail’s current kitchen staff could be hired by that firm.
“We did not oppose them hiring out employees,” Zenk said.
The jail will still be responsible for maintaining the food service equipment; janitorial and paper products; protective clothing and uniforms for inmate workers; and other incidental costs, according to a memo.
The commissioners have sought to move both the jail and juvenile correctional center to private food service after Lake County Community Corrections made the shift last year.
The food service company estimated the cost per meal, based on the average population, is $1.72, according to Kellie Bittorf, executive director of Lake County Community Corrections, and facility previously spent roughly $4 per meal.
The Aramark pricing is based on volume, according to Bittorf, and Community Corrections averages about 170 people per day.
The commissioners plan to seek new proposals for food service at the juvenile detention center after it received one proposal later and another bid noted the company did not have enough time to properly respond.
By: Craig Lyons
Published: November 8, 2018