Changes are on the way for food services at King’s.
Before the academic year even began, the food services contract search committee was working on creating a Request for Proposals (RFP). They accepted proposals from interested proponents until the end of February.
Bonnie Sands, bursar at King’s and member of the committee, says that Sodexo has been the provider at King’s for about thirty years. If they submit a proposal and are selected, they could continue service but with the minimum changes outlined in the RFP.
Some of the minimum requirements include extended dining hall hours and recognition of dietary needs, including Hallal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, and other dietary options.
Over the summer, the committee started meeting to plan for the year ahead. In the fall, they surveyed students, faculty and staff about what they’d like for food services. From that, they began seeing prospective providers. Many of the minimum requirements were reflected in the results of the survey, which had responses from hundreds of students.
“Students really care about sustainability when it comes to food service. Students are also very passionate about having a number of options for students with dietary restrictions as well as ensuring that there’s variety and there are nutritious options for students,” says Brennan McCracken, student rep on the search committee.
“I’m very happy with all the feedback that we were able to get but I’m also happy to say that those students’ concerns are reflected in the RFP that was posted.”
He says that students’ calls for sustainability and a variety of food, including local foods, were heard loud and clear by the search committee and incorporated in the RFP.
McCracken says he is also committed to ensuring that the concerns of students are acknowledged after the contract is awarded.
King’s has a membership with the Canadian College and University Food Service Association (CCUFSA). A service the association offers to their members is a visiting director’s evaluation. Representatives came to King’s in November to consult with groups of students, faculty and staff in person about what they want to see when the contract is awarded.
The same concerns brought up in the survey were voiced in those in-person reviews.
“[The review groups had] different perspectives, different lenses, but the feedback from the students was very, very similar, which was good, actually,” says Daryl Murphy, director of finance with King’s and member of the search committee.
Sands says the CCUFSA review team was made up of three peer universities from across the country.
“We tried to get smaller universities that would have more of a small-school feel, that would have a familiarity with this kind of university,” she says.
Now that the period for accepting proposals has closed, the committee is in the process of going through the proposals and evaluating them.
As outlined in the RFP, the criteria for evaluation includes:
Background and History of the Proponent Including References (15%)
Proposed Food Service Offerings and Logistics in the Best Interest of King’s (15%)
Food and Service Quality Management and Menu Options (25%)
Management and Staffing (15%)
Financial Submission (25%)
Transition Plan (5%)
Murphy says the committee is in the process of evaluating the proposals now and should have the results of the RFP by the end of the month.
The chosen proponent will be given the opportunity to negotiate a contract of five years. They would start working in July.
Editor’s Note: This article was written for The Watch before the search committee chose the successful proponent. A group named Chartwells was chosen.