In late 2006 and early 2007 the Mackinac Center conducted a nationwide survey of state education departments about the number of conventional public school districts that contract with a food service management company. As part of the National School Lunch Program, states keep records on participating institutions that contract with an FSMC for food services. For the purposes of our survey, charter schools, private and parochial schools and residential child care institutions were excluded from the tally.

The results can be seen below.

Graphic 1

Number of Conventional Public School Districts in the National School Lunch Program That Contract With Food Service Management Companies, by State

State

NSLP Districts Contracting Food Services

Total NSLP

Districts

Percentage of
NSLP Districts
Contracting

Food
Services

Alabama

1

131

0.8

Alaska

5

50

10.0

Arizona

44

198

22.2

Arkansas

0

245

0.0

California*

2

894

0.2

Colorado

11

178

6.2

Connecticut

40

169

23.7

Delaware

0

19

0.0

Florida

6

67

9.0

Georgia

1

180

0.6

Hawaii

0

1

0.0

Idaho

4

109

3.7

Illinois

160

873

18.3

Indiana

14

294

4.8

Iowa

8

345

2.3

Kansas

4

295

1.4

Kentucky

0

175

0.0

Louisiana

1

69

1.4

Maine

2

231

0.9

Maryland

1

24

4.2

Massachusetts

47

299

15.7

Michigan

159

552

28.8ii

Minnesota

42

339

12.4

Mississippi

1

202

0.5

Missouri

97

524

18.5

Montana

6

325

1.8

Nebraska

17

254

6.7

Nevada

1

17

5.9

New Hampshire

25

467

5.4

New Jersey

349

542

64.4

New Mexico

12

89

13.5

New York

149

680

21.9

North Carolina

4

115

3.5

North Dakota

0

188

0.0

Ohio

50

613

8.2

Oklahoma

15

541

2.8

Oregon

32

196

16.3

Pennsylvania

184

501

36.7

Rhode Island

31

36

86.1

South Dakota

16

168

9.5

South Carolina

11

85

12.9

Tennessee

1

136

0.7

Texas

96

1,054

9.1

Utah

2

40

5.0

Vermont

42

280

15.0

Virginia

7

132

5.3

West Virginia

0

55

0.0

Washington

51

282

18.1

Wisconsin

61

416

14.7

Wyoming

3

48

6.3

Total

1,815

13,722

13.2

Source: State education departments, author’s calculations
* The California data reflect the number of districts that had official contracts with an FSMC to provide services in conventional public school districts. This figure, however, probably understates the role of FSMCs in California. Districts frequently turn to FSMCs through consulting agreements, rather than official contracts. Such agreements were excluded by the state of California when it responded to the survey, while essentially similar agreements were included by other states participating in the survey.


As can be seen from the total of the fourth column, the nationwide average was just 13.2 percent, or less than half of the rate in Michigan. Since the Center’s nationwide survey was completed, however, the total number and percentage of school districts that contract for food service have changed. The new data on these changes is discussed further in the detailed "2007 Survey Results" section, below.

Food service privatization is one area of school competitive contracting where Michigan is a national leader, though Rhode Island (86.1 percent), New Jersey (64.4 percent) and Pennsylvania (36.7 percent) still outpace the Great Lake State. The Northeast corridor appears to dominate America’s food service contracting landscape. Indeed, almost 75 percent of all contracts between conventional public school districts and FSMCs are located in just 10 states, seven of which are located in the Northeast.

These are not the only sound statistics that exist on this topic. For more information, see "A School Privatization Primer for Michigan School Officials, Media and Residents." Also, this fall the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release its own survey research which will include data on the degree to which schools contract out for food services.


ii This survey was completed in early 2007 and thus has a different percentage total for Michigan than the data tallied in a second, separate survey by the Mackinac Center completed June 30.