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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Food service supplier negotiations result in meal plan and Dunkin Donuts

The+Campus+Center+cafeteria+reaches+maximum+capacity+during+rush+hours.
The Campus Center cafeteria reaches maximum capacity during rush hours.

The University of Massachusetts Boston’s search for a food service provider is drawing to a close. The University is currently considering contracting one of two different companies. Both companies have submitted proposals that meet current and future needs of the university as determined by the evaluation process that began in 2011.
“The university embarked in a full dining services review process,” Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Services Diane D’Arrigo said, in order to determine the campus’s current and future needs. That information was complied into a Request for Proposal (RFP), a document describing what a food supplier must be able to provide in service and capital investment.
The assessment of the campus’ dining service needs involved hiring an outside consultant, conducting focus groups with students, staff and faculty, and visits to sites where potential suppliers were already in business. The assessment was overseen by the Dining Services Request for Proposal Committee that was comprised of Campus Services faculty as well an undergraduate and graduate student.
Dining services management has been overhauled in the year and a half since the project began. “We got a new general manager a new catering director, and a new executive chef,” D’Arrigo said, “since then quality has improved.”
Because of overwhelming outcry from students there will be an on-campus Dunkin Donuts within the year 2014, regardless of which supplier is chosen. “People want it beyond belief,” D’Arrigo said, “but Dunkin’s cannot use Styrofoam on campus.” Students can also expect the implementation of a commuter meal-plan and the disappearance of Burger King within year 2014.
The university’s growing population was also a major consideration in drafting the RFP. The university intends to enroll 18,000 students in 2015 and already the Campus Center Cafeteria operates at capacity during peak hours. “We are getting maxed out in terms of space without a doubt,” D’Arrigo said.
“We are really looking forward to the new buildings opening. The ISC will have a small café and GAB 1 will have a large café. We really need it,” D’Arrigo added, referring to the Integrated Sciences Complex (ISC) and General Academic Building No. 1 (GAB 1).
In the meantime, the two contending companies have each pledged to make a capital investment in improving and expanding the services that are already in operation. The campus makes a commission on the supplier’s sales. The supplier does not receive any subsidy from the university and its vendors are in direct competition with local eateries.
Suppliers can make yearly adjustments to their prices, but those adjustments are reviewed item by item by Campus Services, which is able to disallow price increases.
Both competing companies have meet the minimum requirements of the RFP in terms of food cost, capital investment, food quality, and eco-friendliness.
“The companies bidding are all large companies with lots of similar resources,” D’Arrigo said. “It becomes about which company can manage their resources most efficiently for our campus. Provided the company does not have some egregious history of treating people awful, it comes down to which company can provide the most effective team of people to run daily operations. Trying to determine that is a very long, difficult and thorough process.”