Tortolan is the nation's premier provider of support services operations benchmarking, monitoring, and assessment, specializing in food, physical plant (maintenance, custodial and grounds) and transportation services.


Our staff has many years of experience in managing and providing support to the K-12 market. We provide consulting services for food service programs. We will analyze the staffing, purchasing, marketing, food preparation and commodity usage of the food service department. We will assess how the department interfaces with other service providers in your organization.

We look at participation rates, use of federal programs and methods for maximizing reimbursement. We will evaluate your training programs. We will even evaluate how your food service workers interface with the academic program, something that is ignored by virtually every other company.

We do not rely on using baseline data from other organizations to offer comparisons. We look at the unique facilities and culture of each client to determine optimal food service operations. We believe that over-reliance on comparators leads to artificial data.

If you are considering outsourcing a portion or the entire department, we will help you evaluate the options. We are neither for nor against outsourcing. Our goal is to help you identify the most effective manner to manage your food service department.

A sample of the core services in which we have expertise includes analysis of the following food service functions:

We have several programs available to support the food service needs of our clients. These programs are explained in detail below:

Food Service Program Assessment


Portolan will assess your food service program utilizing on-site visitation, data evaluation and off-site analysis. We provide recommendations that will:


We offer clients strategies for improvement that are practical and designed for implementation in the real world. We understand the different models of food services. We provide assessments that are based in both sound practices and innovative strategies. We analyze operations, staffing, finances and culture. Our purpose is to help you envision how utilizing our improvement strategies and optional operational models is the option you have to save money and/or improve operations.

We continue to work with you until you completely understand our observations and recommendations and select strategies for improvement. We provide you the information necessary for sound decision-making. Our assessments involve analysis and recommendations designed to allow leadership to choose the correct timeframe and methodology for improvement/change strategies. Our analysis team will gain knowledge of and understand each component of your food service program.

As part of our analysis, we will (depending on the scope):

At no point in the process do we provide data or information in isolation. We look historically at what has been while at the same time providing recommendations for future improvements.

Food Service Program Assessment - Areas of Concentration

Program Finances

We normally request the two most recent years of department financial reports. These reports will need to be detailed enough to allow a complete and thorough assessment. We will also need the current year food service program budget with year-to-date actual expenditures.

Operational Statistics

We will need access to the normal and typical statistical information that is compiled by any public organization as part of its fiduciary duties. Our experience will help us determine the correct “benchmarks” or “KPIs” for your organization.

Organizational Culture

People are the most important component of a support service operation. The degree of resistance to change helps determine if new protocols and standard operating procedures will be fully implemented. The climate and culture of an organization's support service department is a key determinant of whether an assessment effort leads to change or simply becomes credenza-ware. We will identify the forces for and against change. We will help identify factors and methods that are compatible with your culture.

If change is necessary, will your organization be able to implement it? This is an all-important question that must be answered. Change readiness is a key ingredient to any improvement action plan.

Employee labor groups must be included to get their feedback. We will want to interview all appropriate stakeholders to get their perspectives and to keep them informed. We focus on gaining input from instructional leaders as well. Inclusion is very important as an assessment progresses.

We have specific training programs to assist in the change management/acceptance process. We provide this training as a part of our normal and typical assessment.

Strategies for Assessment

Our assessments involve members of Portolan staff in your organization over the appropriate amount of time necessary for the project scope. Our time on site will be punctuated by verbal and written reports, inclusive of financial, organizational and staffing analysis and recommendations. Portolan personnel will be on-site to accomplish specific projects/aspects of the study. This time on-site will vary according to the particular work being done. Our time on site has ranged from as short as two days to as long as two years.

Project Model

Portolan will meet with the organization’s administration and food service program staff to prepare a detailed plan to coordinate the work.

Portolan will coordinate a detailed timetable of key dates and deadlines with personnel. Senior members of Portolan engagement team will hold periodic meetings with staff to discuss the timetable, the progress of the engagement and any unusual circumstances or problems that might require modification of the plan.

Our assessments are conducted in phases. These phases are identified for project organization and may overlap. The same or similar processes, methods and data may be analyzed in more than one phase. From an operations perspective, the assessment can include the following:

Project Phases and Tools

Information Technology


Site Visits

The assessment phase will include a visit to a pre-determined percentage of all school and administrative sites, (usually 15%). All visited sites will be evaluated using Portolan's School/Site Food Service Performance Index. We prefer that organizational personnel accompany Portolan personnel in the visitation and evaluation of each site. In collaboration with the client, the sites to be visited will be identified.

Site Analysis

Safe Harbor Food Service Assessment/Quality Assurance Program

Safe Harbor includes:

Portolan’s Safe Harbor Program is an invaluable tool for department heads. It should be used each year to measure and monitor the performance of your food service department. Whether you are a new manager/director or you have been the department’s leader for many years, these tools will help you determine and improve your department’s performance.

These indices break down specific areas and functions that are routine, day-to-day operational tasks and show you where your department needs to improve. They also show you what areas are performing well. This enables you to show your stakeholders your positive performance.

Each performance index:

Navigator Food Service Monitoring Program

Portolan can also provide our Navigator Food Service Monitoring Program. Our Navigator Program provides on-going monitoring services of your food service operation. We developed this program with tools and support that allow our clients to monitor the operational and financial components of their food service operation. This allows our clients the opportunity to determine how effective and efficient their food service operations are at any given time through out the year. This program provides key performance indicators and benchmarks that allow our clients to monitor and adjust the functional components of their food service operation as needed.

Samples of the services that are included in our Navigator Food Service Monitoring Program are:

Our monitoring program is usually provided on an annualized basis to cover the complete fiscal year of our clients operation. It includes on and off-site support from our food service experts for the duration of the program.

Cooperation and Support Expectations of the
Client for On-Site Assessments

The following are Portolan’s expectations of the client:

Please let us know from the contact page if you would like to speak further with us about what we can do to help you with your school food service needs.

Back to top