Schools replace lunch bread supplier

The Central School Board on Monday voted unanimously to use Flowers Bakery of Baton Rouge to supply bread for school lunches, replacing national supplier Hostess Brands Inc., which declared bankruptcy a few days ago.

Hostess Brands, known as Interstate Bakery, is best known as the maker of items such as Twinkies and Wonder Bread. The company shut down Nov. 16 after one of its unions went on strike earlier this month to protest wage and benefit cuts, a move that put most of its 18,500 employees out of work.

“We’ve got to get bread from somewhere,” Board President James Gardner said, explaining the sudden move.

Flowers Bakery had sought Central’s business this spring but its bid came up just short of the bid submitted by Interstate Bakery.

Kathy Hattaway, Central’s director of child nutrition, said fortunately Flowers was able to start immediately and began supplying bread to Central on Monday, the first day students returned from Thanksgiving break. Flowers will continue for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, and will do so at a per-unit cost that’s just a penny or two at most above what Interstate was charging, depending on the item.