Report Slams Camden Schools Dining Finances

The Camden (NJ) City Schools Foodservice Department wasted more than $1.5 million in food and failed to collect almost $500,000 in meal tabs from students, according to a consultant’s report examining the department’s performance over the 2007-08 school year, according to the Camden Courier-Post. The report prompted a pair of state legislators to request an investigation by the state attorney general into possible criminal violations, including theft.

The review by the Edvocate consulting firm was requested by Camden’s state-appointed interim business administrator, David Shafter, because of chronic financial shortfalls by the department that forced the Board of Education to shell out subsidies of $4.7 million in 2006-07 and $3.3 million in 2007-08. The Foodservice Department serves more than 2.1 million meals and snacks annually to students in the district but generated revenues of only $4.6 million in 2007-08, leading to the $3.3 million shortfall the BOE had to close.

Among the recommendations offered by Edvocate in its report are to institute basic cost controls, which it estimates would save $1.5 million in food cost. Among its findings, the report notes that Camden "loses" the equivalent of 1,308 school meals daily through a combination of overpayment, waste and failure to receive payment from students. The report also recommended the removal of Foodservice Department Supervisor Tony Robinson.