The kitchen at the Whitson facility in Huntington Station, in...

The kitchen at the Whitson facility in Huntington Station, in the late 1990s. Credit: Newsday / Don Jacobsen

A rival company has filed a lawsuit against the city of Boston in an attempt to reverse a $22.5 million public school lunch service contract won by Whitsons Culinary Group, of Islandia, a published report says.

The Boston Globe reports that the losing bidder in the Boston schools contract, Preferred Meal Systems Inc., has filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County, Mass., Superior Court saying Boston officials violated public bidding laws.

In the suit, Preferred said the officials "wrongfully negotiated a lower price with its only competitor in the bidding process, Whitsons Food Service Corp., and overlooked other aspects of Whitsons’ proposal that failed to meet the criteria the city set for awarding a contract," according to the published report.

When Whitsons won the contract last year, Newsday reported that it planned to add 11 jobs on Long Island, and to use ingredients from the Island's farms, in fulfilling the three-year contract. Whitsons is now in the first year of that contract, which began in September.

A spokesman for Preferred Meal Systems, based in Berkeley, Illinois., said the company would not comment during litigation.

Holly Von Seggern, a vice president at Whitsons, said the company "has not been named a party to the suit." She added, "we are very proud of the strides we have made with the school nutrition program through our partnership with Boston Public Schools, and all of the enhancements to the program that have benefited the children and the community. We look forward to continuing these initiatives."

The family-run Whitsons, with 1,500 employees and $80 million in annual sales, got its start in 1979 when Elmer and Gina Whitcomb bought two Garden City restaurants, the Bon Bon and the Blue Chip.

Photo shows the kitchen at the Whitsons facility in Huntington Station, in the late 1990s.

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