Sodexho contract outbid

Northern Kentucky University is in the final stages of signing a new dining contract with Chartwells, a division of the Compass Group, that would take effect next semester and allow students and faculty more flexibility with meals across campus.

“The committee did make the recommendation to begin to work a contract with the Compass Group, and we are in the process of negotiating the final contract, the particulars,” said Andy Meeks, director of business operations and auxiliary services. “Barring some complications, the contract is pretty much set.”

Both Sodexho and Chartwells submitted proposals and made three-hour presentations. A committee of students and other faculty members subsequently selected Chartwells to fulfill NKU’s dining needs. There wasn’t one main reason Sodexho wasn’t re-signed; Chartwells just had a more attractive proposal to cater NKU’s needs.

The new contract begins next semester and students will start to see minimal changes due to the transition period.

“Students may see some small renovations or paint in areas such as the University Center or the Norse Commons Cafeteria, but most of the major changes will be implemented over the summer and into the fall semester,” Meeks said.

Renovations may take place in the Norse Commons cafeteria as early as winter break. Students will notice a difference in food quality in the Norse Commons cafeteria and the home option in the University Center.

The current fast food lines will still be in operation next semester, however there is a possibility that one may be replaced by another over the summer and into the fall semester next year.

“The fast food lines won’t change too much because students like them,” Meeks said. He added, “There won’t be too many changes in the University Center with the plans for a new student union underway.”

Next year students will have more flexibility in meal plans although the final details have not been settled yet. The financial agreements could not be disclosed, however it was suggested that the change was a good fit for NKU as the university moves forward in improving the campus for everyone involved.

Changes for this coming spring semester will include the quality of the food. Research was conducted over a five to six month period to sample and evaluate the services provided at other campuses to decide what option was best for NKU. “It is one man’s opinion, but the committee made several visits, both announced and unannounced, and the food at other schools was pretty good,” Meeks said.

Schools that currently have dining services provided by the Compass Group include Ohio Wesleyan University, Towson University, University of Louisville, Miami University, Florida Atlantic University, Radford University, Marietta College and Wittenberg University.

“The food is pretty good. I like all our options and flexibility,” said Sarah Steele, a junior at Ohio Wesleyan.

Currently, Chartwells is settling in and hiring employees, working out vending issues, getting vehicles and preparing to serve customers. “Of all the people I talked to with the Compass Group and on the site visits, the one thing they wanted to talk about was serving the customer.

“They didn’t want to talk about money, they didn’t want to talk about how big Northern Kentucky University is, they didn’t want to talk about what kind of vending they would be doing, they just wanted to talk about customer service and how important it is,” Meeks said.

It is required that all the current Sodexho employees are kept on staff by the Compass Group unless the employee has reason to not stay on staff. Sodexho management will be the only employees to leave, and new management from Chartwells will take over.

Meetings have already taken place to introduce employees to new management and go over procedures and the particulars of the new agreement. NKU wants to have the smoothest transition possible.

During the last few weeks, all meals will take place as normally scheduled. Traditionally, there has never been a late night meal option for finals week, however Feast for Finals will still take place in the Norse Commons cafeteria Dec. 9 as scheduled. All are encouraged to attend, not just students who live on campus.