CUSD contracts threatening how Puma Den functions


Tya Mounlachack

Puma Den cashier assists a student during a lunch rush.

Through chiming whispers and Twitter gossip, #SaveThePumaDen can finally be put to rest. The Puma Den has clarified that it will not be closing its doors with the influence of new district-wide policies.

DECA adviser and marketing teacher Rob Lange explains, “The school store won’t go anywhere, but it’s going to take a huge hit.”

Overtime, the school cafeteria has been losing money. As a result, the district has decided to work with a contractor to help the cafeteria service lunches more effectively.

The Aramark association is the provider of these services and will be implementing product on demands (PODs), along with a new coffee bar scheduled by the end of this year.Senior CJ Parisian and DECA president explains, “The thing that is causing the panic about the Puma Den is the new idea of a POD, which is a convenience store on campus that that company [Aramark] runs.”

However in the recent weeks, Aramark and the Puma Den have talked about partnering together with running the PODs on campus, and possibly integrating it as a part of the Puma Den. In regards to the coffee bar, as it launches in the cafeteria, Aramark has separately offered to help out with supplies for the Puma Den.

Lange explains, “When we get to the PODs that’s really more where we’re looking to partner.”

With the Puma Den being a primary source of funding for many events DECA takes part in, many worry about how this change will threaten the future experiences many students will have the opportunity to receive.

Lange further explains, “I just want to make sure that we try to figure out a way that we can work together.”

The primary goal of the Puma Den is to support its students. By offering options that are affordable and different from a cafeteria experience, the Puma Den aims to positively impact the student life on campus.

Principal Dan Serrano addressed the issue and says, “Our DECA program is very strong, it’s one of the strongest if not strongest in the state. So, I’m going to do whatever I can within the district and federal guidelines to let them be successful.”

Because this is a district-wide policy, other Chandler schools are scheduled to receive these PODs. Chandler High School has already accepted theirs, and Perry will be last in line to receive the them.

By then, Lange is hoping many questions and issues will be resolved regarding the PODs, by the time Perry gets ready to receive them.

The Puma Den is not only looking to team up with Aramark, but works within the community and other clubs and programs on campus to stay involved in student life. For example, the Puma Den occasionally teams up with culinary to sell new products in their store.

Each of these aspects reflect the values of DECA and the authenticity of student management in the Puma Den.

Senior and Secretary  Neveah Saenz explains, “It gives me something to be a part of, it’s a second family, it’s taught me so many things not only just about being a better friend, but being a better leader.”

The Puma Den is a prized possession of many students. It is a professional way to showcase achievements, and gain insight on life after high school.

Lange explains, “The school store supplements all that we do.”

Despite the changes circling around the district regarding Aramark’s involvement, The Puma Den will remain open-for-business.

Serrano explains, “The student store is never going away,” he goes on to clarify, “We didn’t put it in just to have it close down, because I believe it’s very important part of their curriculum.”

While specific details remain unknown; DECA can rest assured that the Puma Den will reign on for generations to come.