The Columbus Board of Education last week hired a new director for the district's troubled Food Services Department.

The Columbus Board of Education last week hired a new director for the district's troubled Food Services Department.

The board unanimously approved hiring Joseph W. Brown to take charge of the $25-million department at its Sept. 16 regular meeting. Board President Terry Boyd was absent from the meeting.

Brown will start at the end of October and receive about $100,000 annually.

According to a resume provided by the district, Brown previously worked for Philadelphia-based Aramark, where he served as general manager over nutrition and environmental services at Grant Medical Center.

Prior to working for Aramark, he was general manager of a Chili's Grill & Bar.

Brown, who has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in business administration, will take over a troubled department, which was designed to be self-sustaining. In recent years, the department has run in the red and been forced to borrow money from the district's general fund.

The department's former director, Dudley Hawkey, stepped down from his position this summer. Hawkey's departure came after an internal audit showed that a poor control environment led to unauthorized food purchases.

According to Jeff Warner, a district spokesman, Hawkey still works for Columbus City Schools, though in a different capacity.

One question facing the new hire will be how he handles a department that could be outsourced.

This summer, the district solicited three companies for proposals to take over portions of the Food Services Department.

"Basically we sought a request for proposals to explore the concept of using outside services to assist in the management of our food services operations," Warner said.

Still, no decision has been made in regards to the proposals.

"It's not guaranteed that we will (outsource); we are just exploring that possibility," Warner said.