LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - JCPS high school and middle school students may have noticed something different about their cafeteria menus this year.
For the first time in a generation, there will be no Papa John's pizza for lunch.
The Louisville-based pizza giant has been delivering hot pizzas to Jefferson County schools since the mid-1990s.
But now the district d ropped Papa John's $1.2 million contract for a different brand. JCPS Nutrition Service Center Manager Dan Ellnor said there was nothing wrong with the pizza, and it wasn't about money.
"We sat down with Papa John's at the end of last year and had the conversation. They're a great partner," Ellnor said. "We talked with all of their folks and we told them, you know what? We're going to try something different."
Instead of pizza prepared outside the school and delivered, JCPS is now shipping frozen Wild Mike's pizzas from Oregon. The brand makes pizza with no preservatives, no fillers and no conditioners - much like Papa John. The pizzas are then baked and served hot in the cafeteria.
Salt or sodium content was also a consideration. There are federal guidelines limiting how much salt or sodium schools are supposed to feed children in a week.
JCPS determined Wild Mike's pizza contains 25% less sodium than Papa John's.
With less sodium in the pizza, JCPS will be able to add other popular salty menu items during the week like turkey bacon and hot sauce.
"It allows us to spread that sodium out throughout the week," Dan Ellnor said. "So we're bringing back hot sauce the students have wanted for a number of years and we haven't been able to offer for the last three or four years. We're doing bacon, turkey bacon that's coming back to the menu, which is a very popular item. It allows us to bring more popular items back to students."
Students involved in taste-testing gave the Wild Mike's pizza their approval before JCPS ended the Papa John's contract.
A Papa John's spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.