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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sodexo, or No Sodexo?

Students+standing+in+line+at+the+popular+Atrium+Cafe.+
Students standing in line at the popular Atrium Cafe.

 

 

The 2004 contract between UMass Boston and its food vendor, Sodexo Inc., will expire in June 2013, and may then be renewed or awarded to a different food vendor.

According to Diane D’Arrigo, assistant vice chancellor for campus services, the university is currently in the middle of an extensive dining services review process. She explained that the process, which started in September, has three phases: the assessment period, the dining services master plan, and the request for proposal.

The assessment phase that occurred last fall entailed a series of focus groups and discussions with students and staff about the different ways food service quality could be improved.

“We’ve been collecting a lot of information on what people think about dining on campus, and what they’d like to see in the future,” D’Arrigo said.

John Stahey, an English major who has been at UMass Boston for 2 years, had no complaints about Sodexo’s food.

“I have had some bad experiences with Sodexo at other schools, but here they have Burger King, so I am okay with it.”

Psychology major Matt Larrabee has been at UMass Boston for 5 years. “There is always a healthy option so I am reasonably satisfied with Sodexo’s service,” Larrabee said.

According to D’Arrigo, decisions about future dining services will take into account the growing size of the student population, and the construction of residence halls, which will probably lead to the introduction of meal plans.

The Office of Campus Services is currently reviewing data from over 1,400 responses to a survey they conducted. Sixty-five percent of the respondents were students, while the rest were faculty and staff. The survey is being considered together with market research about issues such as where people go to eat and what they say they want. The information will be compiled to draft a Request For Proposal (RFP), which is basically a list of the school’s requirements from a food vendor. The RFP will be circulated in October or November, when the university starts accepting bids.

“Bidders have to meet all our criteria to get awarded the contract,” D’Arrigo said. The final decision will be based on the quality and quantity of food service operations of potential vendors, as well as the financial aspect.

D’Arrigo also explained that the school has not yet decided whether to award the next contract to multiple vendors, or to just one. In the past, Sodexo has held the contract exclusively.

D’Arrigo emphasized that even though the survey ended last week, student input about the university’s food service is still welcome. She invited students to email her directly “with any ideas they have for the future.” She can be contacted at [email protected].