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GHS Construction

School food director: GMS/GHS kitchen project not costly

GREENFIELD — Revamping the Greenfield Middle School so that it can temporarily fill in as the school department’s food services hub during high school construction should cost under $10,000, not the previously planned $140,000, according to the school food services director.

The School Building Committee had been considering spending about $140,000 to build a temporary kitchen in the middle school while construction will shut down the high school’s kitchen for the first half of 2015. The high school prepares roughly half of the school department’s meals and about 60 percent of the town’s students qualify for free or discounted meals.

The building committee and its project consultants had considered rental spaces around town, before agreeing that a $140,000 plan to refit the middle school space was likely the best option. However, an architect bill last month for work on the project caused members to reconsider and now the school department is handling the matter itself.

Bernie Novak, the department’s food services and nutrition director, who has spent four decades managing operations and logistics for restaurants, nursing homes, schools and colleges, said that storage rooms near the kitchen will be refitted into prep and food storage spaces. Most of the equipment will come from the existing high school kitchen and returned back to the high school after construction is complete.

It will be a “hectic week-and-a-half” to set up, but afterward should be a seamless transition, said Novak, who has worked on multiple jobs requiring temporary kitchen mobilization. Most of the equipment can be easily transferred from place to place. And equipment like food warmers enables staff to prepare a large amount of food each day and transfer it to the department’s schools without difficulty, he said.

“We’ve got the space, we can work out a plan to feed anybody,” said Novak. “We’ll feed the kids, we’ll meet health code, we’ll take care of their nutritional needs. They’ll get the same menu they would have had otherwise.”

The high school building project’s consultants met with Novak when discussing possible solutions for kitchen operations during the first half of 2015. But Novak was not present at the school building meetings when the issue was discussed. Superintendent Susan Hollins wrote on her online journal that she appealed to Novak after the issue came to a head at a meeting last month.

At that meeting, lead architect Lee Dore asked the building committee to pay $6,380 for design work done by a Massachusetts-based food service consultant on a proposed revamped kitchen space at the Greenfield Middle School.

Committee members had previously indicated their interest in shifting kitchen operations to the middle school, but contended they never officially approved the project although their consultants were under the impression they had.

The committee grudgingly voted 4-2 to pay the bill, although members told the project consultants that this couldn’t happen again.

Dore has since retracted the bill, agreeing to swallow the cost. The project’s consultants will have no further involvement in the kitchen plan.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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