BID A SLICE
Vendors interested in bidding to provide pizza to Marion County Schools should contact the school nutrition department at 423-942-3434 or email email@example.com for bid specifications. Bids are due by 11 a.m. CST on Dec. 13.
So what do you want on your 2,600 pizzas?
The Marion County school system is taking bids for "fresh cooked and delivered pizza," officials said.
Pizza is undeniably one of the most popular foods among students, and today across the region many probably will dine on the Friday-favorite feature.
But what officials in Marion want is the healthiest variation of the Italian pie -- 1,500 pepperoni, 150 pepperoni and bell pepper and 1,000 cheese pizzas over the course of a school year, delivered about once a month for each of the county's nine schools, Director of Nutrition Danita Taylor said.
"We haven't received a bid back as yet," she said Wednesday. "We're trying to give the kids something that they like while giving them healthy food."
Children form opinions on "cafeteria food" without even sampling it, so hot pizza deliveries should slice past those prejudices, Taylor said.
Marion's order is for as many as 2,650 16-inch pepperoni pizzas, pepperoni and bell pepper pizzas and cheese pizzas, all with whole-wheat crusts, according to bid specifications. Each slice must include a minimum of two ounces of "lite" real mozzarella cheese and low-fat, low-sodium sauce and pepperoni, if added.
Bid specifications call for healthier and different quantities of ingredients than the kind of pizza regular consumers get from a delivery business, Taylor said. And bidders must provide a certified statement of nutritional analysis.
Cumberland County officials said their delivered pizza program, which began last school year, has been well received.
"As far as I know, it's going over pretty well," said Alice Treadway, in Cumberland County Schools' food services department. "It's been a big hit."
Marion conducted a 30-day pilot program earlier this year to taste test the "healthier" version of the pie, she said.
Each school in Marion County had a day to try out the healthier pie delivered by a vendor that has not yet filed a bid.
"About 75 percent of our kids give it the 'thumbs up,'" she said.
There are more than 4,400 students in the Marion County system.
Some schools approach offering pizza to students at an extra cost because it doesn't meet nutritional guidelines, but pizza made to specifications can be offered as part of the regular meal for all students, not just those who can afford it, Taylor said.
"With ours, they'll have to have so much cheese and meat alternate on each slice to meet guidelines for the National School Lunch Program," she said. "We are required to serve whole grains, and it meets the fat and calorie guideline for a school meal."
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...
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