Subway sandwich deliveries have district concerned

An increasing number of lunchtime sandwich deliveries to Laguna Beach Unified campuses has district officials working on an agreement with the restaurant.

More students and parents are taking advantage of a mobile phone app that allows them to place an order at the Subway at 1350 S. Coast Hwy. and have it dropped off during lunch, said Shannon Soto, the district's fiscal services director.

What started out as one or two sandwiches has grown to as many as 40 delivered per day to Thurston Middle School, Principal Jenny Salberg said.

Deliveries are also going to El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools and Laguna Beach High School, Soto said.

District staff are concerned that Subway is competing with its effort to provide nutritious, free-and-reduced price lunches to students on its campuses as part of the federal National School Lunch Program.

"We need to provide a good, quality meal every day at campuses with a variety of menu options," said Dean West, the district's assistant superintendent of business services. "Subway wouldn't want us to park a mobile unit in front of its store."

Store owner Daniel Riscalla said Subway started using the app, Subway California, a year ago. The app can be downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play.

Subway delivers free of charge throughout Laguna Beach, including to four beaches, Riscalla said.

The idea is to deliver sandwiches to set locations at certain times, and is convenient for parents because they don't have to visit the store, pay for the sandwich, and then deliver it to their child, he said.

Drop-off options vary depending on the school.

At Top of the World, sandwiches are dropped off in the front office, Principal Ron LaMotte said.

At Thurston, a table is set up outside on the sidewalk and sandwiches are dropped off, Salberg said.

No outside business can sell food on campus, but the newer technology that handles transactions online and allows drop-offs has created a gray area, West said.

District staff would like Subway to provide in-depth nutritional information for sandwiches that goes beyond calorie count, such as ingredients in deli meats, Soto said.

West said Subway's daily lunchtime deliveries are different than providing food for an occasional campus fundraiser, or even selling during non-competing times.

He also said it's different than ordering a 3-foot long sandwich to split into smaller pieces to feed a group. With the mobile app, a customer can order off Subway's regular menu, which may mean a 6-inch or foot-long meatball or BLT sub.

"We post all menus one month in advance with all nutritional content," West said. "They are balanced meals."

West said staff will craft a letter to send to Subway and try to find a solution to hopefully apply to next school year.

Riscalla wants to work with the district on a solution.

"I understand what the district is saying," Riscalla said. "I don't want to be in a fight with the district on this. I don't want to offend anyone. We'll do whatever we can to work with them."

Soto understands Riscalla's intent as a business owner, but said students come first.

"I can't fault him; he has a business," Soto said. "But we have to think about 3,000 kids and doing what is right — providing equal access to meals for all students."

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