The School Board will take the first step toward reforming Ashland's cafeterias on Monday when it appoints members to the new Food Service Study Committee.

The School Board will take the first step toward reforming Ashland's cafeterias on Monday when it appoints members to the new Food Service Study Committee.

The 10 members of the committee will be tasked with creating a food service program that is healthier and cheaper than the one the district uses now.

The committee will be made up of two school board members, one district administrator, two high school students, one district staff member and four community members with experience managing food services.

At the 7 p.m. meeting in the City Council Chambers, the board will need to choose between seven people who have applied for the community member positions: Dan Fellman, who developed a food service software program; Tracy Harding, executive director of the Rogue Valley Farm to School program; Karen Jeffery, a former restaurateur; Laura Roll, a dietician; Roanna Rosewood, co-founder of the downtown restaurant Pangea; Mary Shaw, culinary education specialist at the Ashland Food Cooperative; and Jill Williams, a dental hygienist.

Since 2005, the district has hired Sodexo Inc. to manage its school cafeterias, while employing its own food service workers — a system that costs the district more money each year.

In an effort to cut expenses, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro recommended in April that the district outsource all cafeteria operations to Sodexo at a fixed cost each year.

However, after hearing pleas from cafeteria workers who didn't want to lose their jobs and parents who didn't want their students eating Sodexo food, school board members decided to keep the district's current system for a year — in order to study how to make it better.

The committee will strive to find a food service model that focuses on fresh, healthy and local foods; uses staff effectively; increases student participation in the schools' breakfast and lunch programs; and is revenue-neutral, according to district documents. The district receives state and federal funding for its cafeteria program and also makes money from food sales.

Committee members will present the results of their research to the school board in December.

Also on the agenda

Also at Monday's meeting, board members are scheduled to vote on whether to approve minor changes to Ashland High School's student handbook, new rules for community members who use district facilities, an alternative contracting process for the Willow Wind Alternative Learning School barn and changes to Ashland High School's course guide for next school year.

For a complete list of agenda items, log on to http://www.ashland.k12.or.us/Files/8-10-09%20Final%20Board%20Packet.pdf.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.