So long, Chartwells
University to bring in Sodexo as new food service provider
By Joe Alicata
Numerous changes will be taking place across the UAlbany campus in the coming year, including the provider of on-campus food services. According to Executive Director of UAS Steve Pearse, Friday evening the UAS Board of Directors selected Sodexo as the university’s new dining services vendor.
Pearse underscored the importance of avoiding hearsay and rumors in an attempt to provide accurate information to students and staff alike during the transition process which will take place over the summer in preparation for the renovation of the Campus Center this coming fall.
As the ASP reported in January, UAS moved the bidding process up by a full year from the original 2014 contract end date for Chartwells in an effort to ensure that the selected provider had a say in the multi-million dollar Campus Center renovation process, avoiding costly possible re-renovations.
Chartwells, a subsidiary of the Compass Group, a British multi-national food service company, Sodexo and Aramark were the three bidders involved in the process which consisted of months of presentations, on-site visits by Pearse and other UAS Board members and extensive research on the part of the university ad hoc committee. The committee is comprised of UAS Board members, including SA
President Arthur Rushforth.
“The ad hoc committee put in many hours throughout this process, they were all wonderful and diligent,” said Pearse. “For me, students are my first priority. My focus was what company can elevate the level of service for our students and help put UAlbany on the map.”
As for direct changes to student life, Pearse emphasized the goal of a seamless transition to be done over the summer, with some noticeable, yet minor changes.
“Names on non-branded concepts, (like Zepps) will change, but the concept will still be there. Zepps might not be ‘Zepps’, but there will still be a sub shop,” said Pearse.
Pearse also explained that throughout the renovation process, new food options will be explored to further diversify
options in the Campus Center to reflect student desires including sushi, which he noted was popular.
This is not the first time Sodexo has been the provider for UAlbany. Previously, Sodexo had a tenuous relationship with the university including an E.Coli outbreak and labor issues.
According to articles from The Ithacan and Albany Student Press dated December 14, 2000 and September 15 respectively, UAS and then Sodexho-Marriott, the name has since been changed as per a vote by the Board of Directors, terminated their agreement citing “issues with food quality.”
Under Sodexho-Marriott management an outbreak of E.Coli 0157 strain on Indian Quad during the 00-01 school year which sent six students to the hospital.
Additionally, Sodexho-Marriott reportedly refused to recognize the dining hall workers union, including documented violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which gives workers the right to unionize and covers other workplace issues. It is not clear whether or not the union issues contributed to the contract termination.
When asked about these issues being considered through the transition process, Pearse explained that specific allegations and issues will be discussed and addressed as the transition process moves forward, but that the board felt that these issues were not reason enough to not choose Sodexo.
SUNY New Paltz also went through a similar process about a year ago and decided to remain with Sodexo, despite the reputation.
Specifics of the deal between UAS and Sodexo will become available as the transition process moves along. The ASP will update accordingly throughout.