Lansing Schools Look to Give Lunches a Little Magic

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The Lansing School District held a closed meeting Monday with three companies to discuss managing the school lunch program. Among those companies was SodexhoMAGIC, run by Lansing's own Magic Johnson.

"What I'm trying to do now is work in partnership with the school district to provide a great cafeteria-going experience for the students," Johnson said.

The other companies in talks with the district are Aramark and Chartwell's. The district hopes to add more school jobs and save money by putting a management company in charge.

"By virtue of having a professional company manage [the program], we're going to do some thing differently in terms of efficiency and productivities," said Lansing School District's Brian Ralph. "Hopefully that will allow us to generate a profit."

Lansing schools decided about six months ago to seek a management company to run the school lunch program. But Ralph said deciding which company to hire would take less.

"We hope to be in the position within a month to make a decision in terms of going forward," he said.

Ralph said once management is in place, schools will see changes immediately. There will be more variety in foods, healthier choices and cafe cards with which to buy lunches. Ralph hopes these improvements will encourage students to opt for school meals rather than going elsewhere.

"There's going to be a change [in the system], and the change is more or less a positive change," Ralph said.

Magic Johnson was happy to be back in Lansing. And regardless of whether the school district chooses SodexhoMAGIC to manage lunchtime, he hopes for big things.

"I want to see this town move upward and forward, and I think in partnership with the school district, we can do that."