Chartwells to replace Sodexo as dining provider
Chartwells, if approved at the April Board of Regents meeting, will take over the dining services at UW-River Falls starting June 1, and new renovations to the University Center would be on the horizon.
Sodexo, the current company, which supplies the students of UWRF with their meal plans, as well as Freddy’s C-Store, has lost the bid to keep its contract with the university. According to Gregg Heinselman, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, each company is under a yearly contract for seven years.
“Our dining services is on a seven-year contract,” Heinselman said. “So that calls for management of our university dining services which includes concessions, retail, catering and residential dining.”
This year there were six companies competing for the contract with UWRF. Each company provides the university with a detailed plan for the food that is provided along with a budget sheet showing the prices for students. Along with UWRF, Chartwells will be providing services to UW-Lacrosse and UW-Superior.
“This company was the most affordable for the students, and was with UWRF seven years ago before Sodexo took over the contract,” Heinselman said.
The campus starts looking for new bidders one year before the contract is up, and each proposed company is examined by two teams. The UW System looks at the financial side of it, and the campus looks at the delivery of the program. The campus looks for the best option for students’ needs and wants, and includes students in on what they want to see in the dining services.
“Campus surveys help the dining services committees on what students want,” Heinselman said. “Ebert and Gerbert’s is an example of the feedback from students.”
As of right now, the residential rates for the dining services will remain the same with the Chartwells Company, and that was the goal to provide the best program at the most affordable cost possible.
Current Sodexo workers have been notified that the company will be leaving the campus, and most of the workers will remain in the same positions that they are currently in. Only managers in the dining hall and Freddy’s C-Store have to look elsewhere within the company to transfer.
“Managers have been notified as well and have the option to transfer to different institutions where Sodexo has a contract,” Heinselman said. “Chartwells will need to hire trained food service workers, and a majority of the hourly employees will come to work June 1, and wear a different uniform and be in a similar job as they were before, but their paycheck will be coming from a different source.”
With Chartwells coming in there may be some renovations to the dining hall to accommodate for the new proposed plan that they are offering. The changes may start as soon as summer courses start, but if not they will start during J-term course in 2016. The plan for the renovations could be finished as early as next summer, but Chartwells will still be providing dining services.
The Board of Regents will look at the contract at its April 9-10 meeting at UW-Waukesha.