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School Lunch Delivery Ban Concerns Area Businesses

Schools administrator now says a contractual issue with the district's cafeteria manager poses further problems with lunch deliveries by outside vendors.

The owners of three local businesses told last week to cease their lunch deliveries to Ridgewood schools petitioned the board of education Monday night to reconsider the new policy barring them from delivering meals to district staff and students.

Superintendent Dan Fishbein, who sent a letter to parents citing safety concerns, parking issues and problems of disruptions for school staff as reasons for the ban, said a contractual issue with the district’s cafeteria service prohibits the businesses’ current system of delivering lunch to students.

The five-year, annually renewable contract finalized last June with The Pomptonian, Inc., specifies that the district “shall assure that there are no competitive sales during the cafeteria’s hours of operation.”

Fishbein said although the district does not pay for the deliveries to students from outside vendors, the involvement of front office staff in distributing the meals could be interpreted as a breach of the contract. He said school officials were not aware of the potential legal issue when the initial letter went out to parents and area businesses last week.

“We’re accepting and distributing [the lunches]. We’re being used to run the businesses,” Fishbein told Patch. “Our staff should not be involved in the operation of their businesses.”

The owners of West Side Bagels and Deli, Parkwood Deli and No Fuss Lunch, three businesses who deliver frequently to students, pressed on school officials Monday night to reconsider the policy, and said they were willing to work to address the concerns stated in Fishbein’s initial letter. And, echoed by a handful of parents who attended the meeting, they also defended the practice as an issue of choice for the families who place orders for their children.

“The [food in the cafeteria] is unacceptable to the kids. That’s why this business has skyrocketed and gotten so big,” said Roger Schnorrbusch, of Parkwood Deli. “I just think it’s unfair that you’re taking this away from the mothers and the kids that come into our business everyday and want to eat our food for lunch.”

The district’s cafeteria menu has been revamped and no longer operates at the deficit of years past, noted district Business Administrator Michael Falkowski. But Gabriella Wilday, co–founder of No Fuss Lunch and a mother of three Ridge School students, said the demand for alternatives remains high.

“We’re willing to work with you because I think there’s a large community of parents that want to choose,” she told district officials.

The business operates without a storefront, and only delivers pre-ordered lunches to schools. Since being informed the deliveries would no longer be allowed as of this week, Wilday said, No Fuss has also taken a substantial financial hit, canceling orders that had already been placed through the end of the month. The small company also delivers to schools in neighboring towns.

“I’ve been shut down,” she said. “And I’ve had to refund 668 orders.”

Fishbein said there would “absolutely not” be further restrictions on parents delivering lunches to their children. He stood by his original suggestion that the businesses propose a method ensuring school staff has no involvement in facilitating the deliveries. 

Willard January 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM
Sorry resident25, this was SuperNanny's doing...his never ending playing of the Safety Card to get what he wants is wearing thin. You can blame the kids or the parents but he brought this nonsense on himself.
thetentman January 20, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Keep crying you bunch of whiners - get over your bad selves and pack a lunch - the sun does not shine out your butt or your kids butt - sorry but it's true - And you wonder why people laugh at this town?
Deb Walker January 20, 2014 at 01:25 PM
And is this why our bloody taxes are so high??? There should be two choices; either eat the cafeteria food or bring your lunch. No fast food deliveries by parents, no deli deliveries. My God, what a bunch of overindulged children AND parents!
Willard January 20, 2014 at 02:21 PM
Ms. Walker, our taxes are bloody high for many reasons, however having lunches delivered to the schools is certainly not one of them. Just this year, the minute the school budget was approved, the BOE hired additional administrators, not teachers, administrators. SuperNanny continually draws unwanted attention to our town by his overly dramatic use of the Safety Card, whether it is SnapChat, Halloween, and now lunch delivery. To rant on the kids and parents is just plain silly. The kids lose, the parents lose, local businesses lose, but SuperNanny and the admin staff can eat their lunch in peace while the cafeteria provider turns out a crap product. So in summary, our taxes are high for many reasons, but please don't be so naive as to blame it on a delivered lunch.
GG January 20, 2014 at 05:11 PM
I am going out on a limb here...but did anyone consider that SuperHero vacillates from one reason to another because he's simply employing diplomacy? I mean, what is the best way to tell helicopters to go hover somewhere else? How do you tactfully say, "parents, I know it's hard to find 5 minutes (or 15 if you have more than 2 children) in a day, but if you're concerned about what your children eat at our school, make them a lunch." It's laughable and at the same time appalling. As a parent, I am angry that delivery people have been given access to our schools. As a working parent, I find it amusing that a parent can't find time to make a lunch for their child(ren)...and more amusing that my elementary aged child knows how to make his own lunch in a pinch. I promise you Willard, SuperHero isn't drawing unwanted attention to our town. Dig deep and really understand this issue, SnapChat and your other perceived dramas...think hard, if not him who could it be?

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