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Sodexo wins next year’s dining contract

May 8, 2008

Starting next fall, UW-River Falls students will have a new provider for their meal plans and dining on campus.

The current contract with Chartwells, the dining services company that is currently used by UWRF, will run out May 31.

The decision to not award Chartwells the new contract was made April 29; the contract was given to Sodexo the next day. 

“It was not really a decision to not re-award to Chartwells as much as it was a decision to establish a new contract,” Director of Purchasing Tom Weiss said. “And at the point of establishing a new contract, there is always the possibility you will end up with a new vendor.”

The decision was made by a committee of students and staff. The committee evaluated the bids and gave scores to the potential providers. The scores were sent to UW-Madison and put together with the cost proposals (which UWRF did not receive), and the highest total won the contract.

“[The committee] was particularly impressed with some of the food selections, what appeared to be quality of food and their efforts towards sustainability,” Weiss said. “They were also impressed by the continuous dining option.”

Continuous dining means that the food service lines for students on a meal plan will be available from open until close.

Currently, Riverside Commons has gaps in service between 9:30-10:30 a.m., and 2:30-4:00 p.m. 

“The C-Store or downstairs is always open, so you can always get food until midnight,” junior Bobby Russ said. “They have enough food, but the main courses could have more variety.” 

Russ added that he was unsure whether a new provider would really affect students.

“I don’t think it will matter; not many students even know what Chartwells is,” he said.

Both providers are used throughout the UW System; Chartwells is contracted by UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater, while Sodexo is used by UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh.

The current contract has been in effect since the 1994-95 school year, but Chartwells has been active at UWRF for over 20 years.

Sodexo’s contract will begin in June and run until May 20, 2009. At that time, UWRF will have the option to extend it for six more years.

“There are a lot of unknowns with a new contract, but I am very optimistic,” Weiss said. “I think a year from now the students are going to say ‘it was a great year with Sodexo – the food was great, the availability was wonderful, the hours were outstanding,’ and I think they will be clamoring for more.”