Foothill-De Anza Community College District trustees received news last week that was hard to swallow: Foothill College food services is running a deficit of more than $170,000 in this budget period.
"We have to look at other options now and stop the bleeding," said district controller Ron Galatolo.
Galatolo told the board the district has a $3 million fund for non-educational operations on Foothill and De Anza campuses that include food services, bookstores and the Flint Center.
The Foothill College Enterprise Fund is operating at a deficit of $200,000, with $170,000 attributed to food services.
"The basic problem is the gross margin of sales," Galatolo said. "Currently, it is only 24 percent. In 1991, it was 61 percent. We have an increasing cost of sales, a declining sales volume with a shrinkage and inventory problem. On top of that, salaries have increased 110 percent."
"The food service needs to be self sustaining. We should not subsidize these projects," said Chancellor Leo Chavez. "When one college (De Anza) is doing well and the other isn't, there is a problem.
"When you include fringe benefits the college provides, the salaries are too high. We could consider branding by contracting out, but we may have contract problems with our present employees," Chavez said.
Trustee Jay Jackman noted a lack of coordination of services in the district.
"We are raising the parking fee tonight and that is $1 less each day the students have to buy food," Jackman said. "Students have a limited amount of money and we have to take that into consideration."
Trustee Dolores Sandoval said the board has been trying to address this issue that includes the union, but given the current status, there isn't a chance of breaking even.
"We need to hear what alternative we have," she said. "I know we can rent out the facilities and make some money, but organizations don't want to rent from us because we can't sell alcohol. We have heard these issues for years - We need a third party to help us determine what to do."
"I know what you mean by industry standard. You are talking about temporary workers with no benefits," said Bev Winters, representing Service Employees International Union 715. "We are kept out of this, and I want to be brought in on the discussion now."
Shirley Treanor, representing Foothill Academic Senate, said the food service issue is of interest for teachers, as well.
"Many teachers do not eat the food because the quality isn't good," she said.