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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB’s Food Service Contract Up For Bid.

Luke Eglingbon weighs a salad.




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, the assistant vice chancellor for campus services, the university is currently in the middle of an extensive dining services review process. She explained that the review 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.

D’Arrigo reported, “We’ve been collecting a lot of information about what people think about dining on campus, and what they’d like to see in the future. Now we’re in the middle of what’s called the dining services master plan, which looks at things like where we need locations, what our size and scope should be, what our hours should be, menu offerings, and how we can build.”

According to D’Arrigo, decisions about future dining services must take into account the size of the student population. The university anticipates that student enrollment may increase within the next ten years to about 18,000 or 20,000. The rise in population would affect student meal plans, if the school gets residence halls in that timeframe.

Regarding current opinion about the student dining experience, the Office of Campus Services is reviewing the data from over 1400 responses to a survey they conducted. Sixty-five percent of the survey’s respondents were students, while the rest were faculty and staff. The survey is being considered jointly 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 lists the school’s requirements from a food vendor. The RFP will be circulated in October.

The RFP process is described by D’Arrigo as an open process. “It is completely open to all vendors who want to bid to get a contract with the school. The bidders have to meet all our criteria to get awarded the contract,” she 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. Although the school hasn’t started accepting bids, potential bidders for food services include Sodexo, Aramark and Chartwells, among others. The university will start accepting bids after the completion of the RFP process in October or November.

D’Arrigo explained that even though the dining services survey ended last week, student input about the university’s food service is still welcome, and invited students to email her directly “with any ideas they have for the future.” Her address is [email protected].