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Naha planning to buy school lunches from private vendors

Date Posted: 2003-01-31

Naha City Board of Education is planning to buy lunches served in its elementary and junior high schools from outside private vendors, instead of maintaining cooks and kitchen personnel at each school to prepare the daily meals.

The first private contract will take effect in September at an undisclosed elementary school. Based on the experience, officials say others are expected to follow, although many PTA’s are skeptical and suspicious of the plan. To counter these suspicions, the Naha Board of Education planned to issue a white paper Jan. 30, addressed to parents and teachers explaining the plan in detail in hopes of winning their backing.

Officials at the elementary school scheduled to conduct the pilot program said they have conducted negotiations with vendors since last year with the school’s PTA an active partner in the talks. The school’s principal, Mikako Nakada, admits that there still are those who have doubts. “I believe most of the parents have an understanding of the new system by now, although some parents are still against a private company preparing the lunches. We will continue to have discussions with these parents to allay their concerns,” Nakada said.

The parents’ concerns are many. Some fear that the price of the lunch will go up. Others are concerned about the nutritional value of the food as well as sanitation. “A private company wants to make a profit, so what’s there to guarantee that they put the children’s welfare before everything else,” one concerned parent commented.

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