Woodbridge Township School District hires new food service provider

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WOODBRIDGE – After shortcomings with Chartwells, the Woodbridge Township School District will soon have a new food service provider.

The Board of Education approved a request for proposal for Pomptonian Food Service, based in Fairfield, Essex County, at a special meeting on Nov. 12. The company provides service for more than 100 school districts in the state including Freehold Regional and Parsippany Troy Hills school districts.

The district terminated its contract with Chartwells on Oct. 1 after attempting to work with the provider to address many concerns with the food that it had served. In September, dozens of parents shared concerns with the board regarding alleged inedible food served to their children.

Schools Superintendent Joseph Massimino notified parents and guardians of Chartwells termination in a letter.

Pomptonian Food Service will begin Nov. 29. In October, the board has also approved Doreen O’Brien as food service catering liaison, who has 30 years of cafeteria experience in the private industry and in school districts, according to School Business Administrator Brian Wolferman.

O’Brien will be in charge of quality control on the ground and in the kitchen making sure the quality of food served is up to the standards the district expects. Her annual salary will be $60,000.

Mark Vidovich, who co-owns Pomptonian with his wife Candy, provided the board with some background of their company with a video at a board meeting on Nov. 18. The company began in 1959.

“Our motto is to under promise and over deliver,” Vidovich said in the video, noting their company is different than a lot of other companies. “Our people are all food people. We handle a lot of paperwork of cafeteria operations in our back office and allow our people to excel in the kitchen making sure they are proud of menu items they are producing.”

Pomptonian plans to offer a different variety of choices from the American Grille, Pizza Zone, and Panini Place to deli and grab-and-go stations. The company also offers promotions from waffles and omelets to sushi, ramen and tacos.

In the video, Pomptonian officials said their service provides concepts of farm-to-tray highlighting local fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of stations.

The company also offers vegan options and works with local pizzerias to bring in local flavor to the menu.

Vidovich said they are working hard on preparations for their first day. He said their No. 1 objective is to make sure they are staffed.

Board member Joseph Triebwasser said it’s important for the public’s patience as the district moves forward with Pomptonian.

“It’s going to take baby steps,” he said. “Chartwells didn’t fail overnight. Unfortunately, with the [coronavirus] pandemic, it brought a lot of their weaknesses to light.”

Triebwasser said he reached out to other districts and heard a lot of positive things about Pomptonian from their response time and commitment to the communities they serve in. He said he personally likes their corporate structure.

For more information, visit https://youtu.be/I9knGvVeFHg.