School District Drops Catering Hot Potato
By Jon A. Brake
At last Wednesday nights Manhattan School Board meeting the Board was
told that the District would not cater to the
K-State Football skyboxes. A letter from Donna Keyser, Food Service Director to KSU Athletic Director was given to the
board. The letter listed five reasons the District would not provide the service for the 2000 football season. It could have (but
didn’t) listed: It’s against the law.
The July 29, 1999 Manhattan Free Press published the story: "KSU’s Catering
Contract Disregards State Law." In the
article it was reported " State Law says a school district can only bid if ‘fewer than two bids from private entities are
received." KSU knew about the law because they had the law changed in the spring of 1999. The University had been
receiving only one bid on catering and asked the State Legislature to change the law. Before 1999 the school district could
not bid on the contract.
KSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Jim Epps told the Manhattan Mercury
that the "contract with the Manhattan School
District to provide food for the skyboxes at KSU football games was not illegal. The University told the Mercury that only
one contract was received. The University told the Mercury "Compass Group USA is a public entity because of its current
relationship with Kansas State, providing food service to the KSU Union. A bid had also been received from Robert C.
Limbocker owner of Bockers II Catering Inc.
The Manhattan Free Press reported on August 5, 1999 the story: "K-State
Athletic Department, Student Union Food
Contracts Are With Different Companies." In that article the Free Press reported: "The front page (obtained by the Free
Press) of the bids submitted to KSU for catering the skybox suites was from Compass Group USA, 2400 Yorkmont Road,
Charlotte, NC. It is not the same company that has the Student Union contract."
The Manhattan School Board discussed the contract last summer but did
not stop the Food Service Department from
fulfilling the signed contract. The letter to the Athletic Director ends the problem. Here is the letter:
Jan. 31, 2000
Mr. Max Urick,
K-State Athletic Director
Dear Max: This letter is to inform you and your staff that we regretfully
decline the option of catering the skyboxes for the
2000 football season. We do acknowledge and thank you for your efforts to assist us in making the task easier. However,
our first and foremost obligation is to the school district and the students we are responsible for feeding each day. Listed
below are the specific reasons we have made the decision to concentrate our efforts on our district responsibilities: 1. The
numbers of students eating have declined this year. We need to spend time in the Fall, marketing and promoting our
programs in the schools. 2. Revenue from the skybox project could be duplicated by serving fewer than 10 additional meals
in each of the 14 schools every school day. 3. Our labor pool is experiencing high turnover in short-hour, but key positions
which translate into continuing and on-going employee training. 4. Most days, office staff are covering positions in the schools
created by the shrinking labor pool and lack of people applying for food service positions. This situation prevents us from
staying on top of work in the office.
We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and your staff this past
year. We sincerely hope that a viable food service
offer to serve the skyboxes will materialize. We would be happy to share our information and knowledge of the operation
with prospective bidders.
Sincerely, Donna L. Keyser