CPS Establishes New Food Spending Policy to Cut Waste After Internal Review Uncovers Unacceptable Spending 

Strict Reforms Put In Place After Review Uncovers Nearly $1.5 Million in Central Office Food Spending
Wednesday, September 16, 2015   

For more information, contact:
CPS Office of Communications   
Phone: 773-553-1620  

CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool today announced that strict controls are being put in place after a preliminary internal assessment uncovered nearly $1.5 million in food and beverage spending from the Central Office last year alone. The reforms are expected to save at least $500,000 annually.
“Our responsibility is to make sure every possible dollar reaches the classroom, and we will continue to find ways to reducing spending in the Central Office to keep money in schools,” Claypool said. “In our challenging budget climate, we can’t waste money on unacceptable and undocumented Central Office food expenses.”
A preliminary review found that the District spent $2.9 million in general education dollars on food from outside vendors in Fiscal Year 2015. Nearly 45 percent of the total was for Central Office departments and more than a third of the total could not be accounted for because of miscoding or a lack of information. As a result, CPS is issuing new guidelines today to employees to ensure that food is purchased only in appropriate circumstances that prioritize events for students and teachers, such as professional development or student activities.
In the past, there were no clear rules in place about food spending. CPS is using industry best practices and a strict approach to reduce spending. These rules will apply to both general education dollars used on food, as well as grant-funded food spending. Most importantly, if the event does not involve students, teachers, principals or parents, District funds cannot be used for food and beverage.
Central Office Staff Events
  • CPS funds cannot be used to purchase food or beverages for events that involve only Central Office staff, including department meetings. 
Education and Professional Development Related Events
  • If the event is four hours or less, no food or beverage spending is allowed.
  • If the event is four to six hours, light refreshments are allowed up to $5 per attendee.
  • If the event is longer than six hours, food and beverage are allowed up to $10 per attendee.
Student Events
  • Food should be coordinated through Nutrition Services.
  • Food and beverage costs are allowed if 1) the event is longer than four hours or 2) it occurs during a normal mealtime (ex: 5 – 7 p.m.)
  • Food and beverage is allowed for up to $10 per attendee.
  • Light refreshments are allowed for up to $5 per attendee.
Parent Events
  • Food and beverage costs are allowed if the event occurs during a normal mealtime (ex: 5 – 7 p.m.)
  • Light refreshments are allowed for up to $5 per attendee. 
All Events
  • All refreshments, food and beverage purchases must be approved by a manager in advance of the event to be paid for by CPS.
  • Documentation of attendees – such as a sign-in sheet – must be included with the invoice.

The Policy Directive on Food and Beverage Spending is available here.

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, September 16, 2015