The district board on March 7 unanimously approved a contract for a little over two years and not more than $500,000 with New York Pizza, located in San Carlos and owned and managed by Luis Guzman. The district normally serves about 17,000 pizzas per school year through its lunch program. Under the contract, the district would pay $9 per pizza, according to a staff report.
The bid was not competitive, but only because New York Pizza was the sole respondent.
The Sequoia district sought bidders over two weeks in February, but to no avail. One vendor told the district it was incapable of meeting the demand, the report said. Another "stated that it did not want its name associated with pizza that was made to USDA School Lunch Guidelines, as past experience had hurt business."
According to recipes published by the department's Food and Nutrition Service, the USDA approves just two toppings for pizza: ground turkey and fresh vegetables.
In an email, Tony Crapo, Sequoia's director of purchasing, included an excerpt from USDA rules saying that "pepperoni must be (made of) reduced fat turkey." The sauce is to be made from no-salt-added tomato paste and dried herbs and spices, with the cheese to be low-fat, low-sodium mozzarella, according to a USDA recipe.
The vegetable pizza uses the same sauce and cheese, but all other ingredients — onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, yellow squash and zucchini — are fresh. The pizza crust must be principally whole wheat flour.
An unscientific survey of seven local pizza outlets showed that none offers toppings made from turkey, nor were there any crusts using whole wheat as a principal ingredient.
Mr. Guzman in an email said it is "very hard" to meet USDA requirements, but noted that he's been in business for over 30 years and has made school lunches for over 20 years.
The rules on ingredients are not "a negative incentive," he said, "because we care about the health of the kids in our schools and that's why we follow all the guidelines to comply with these rules."
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