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School board fed up with delivery fear, scraps pizza contract

January 23, 1997

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A lone delivery decision has cost Pizza Hut a tasty contract.

The Kansas City School Board canceled its $170,000 contract with Pizza Hut Inc. on Wednesday night, fed up with the chain’s refusal to deliver 40 pizzas to a school in a neighborhood it considers unsafe.

``To continue with this contract would be both socially and morally reprehensible,″ board president Ed Newsome said. ``Our students do not have to accept crumbs from Pizza Hut’s table.″

So-called ``pizza redlining″ is not new. Some stores in other chains use maps with certain streets marked off-limits in red ink. Other areas are marked with yellow, where drivers honk their horns for curbside delivery only.

Just this week, Federal Express scrapped a recent schedule change that had trimmed two hours from afternoon service in Gary, Ind. FedEx said the scaled-back plan reflected concern for employee safety in Gary, which had the country’s highest per-capita murder rate in 1995.

The Kansas City squabble started in December, when the Paseo Academy School of the Fine and Performing Arts called to order 40 pizzas for an honor students’ luncheon. The school, with a mostly minority student body, is a $34 million showpiece of the school district’s desegregation program.

Principal Dorothy Shepherd said she was told by Pizza Hut that ``the neighborhood was too dangerous for its drivers″ and the $450 order wasn’t filled.

A few days later, apparently unaware of the incident, the board signed the contract that called for Pizza Hut to supply 21 schools, including Paseo, twice a week through the end of the year.

The board reconsidered the contract after learning about ``pizza redlining.″

Jeff Jervik, vice president of restaurant operations for Dallas-based Pizza Hut, apologized to the board and offered a free pizza party for the school. One Pizza Hut executive called the non-delivery a mistake.

``Making that delivery was the right thing, we should have done it,″ Aylwin Lewis, the company’s chief operating officer, said on NBC’s ``Today″ this morning. ``If we got an order from in the future from that school, we would deliver.″

But Lewis said it was unsafe for Pizza Hut to deliver in the neighborhood near the Paseo school and the chain would not ``chase dollars″ at the expense of driver safety.

The board voted 6-3 to cancel the contract.

Paseo student Rachel Urie questioned why Pizza Hut would risk two drivers at the school twice a week for a $170,000 contract, but not one driver one day for a $450 order.

``This seems greedy, hypocritical and ludicrous,″ she said.

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