The request for proposals process can be a complicated and lengthy one, even when you’re already partnering with the winning candidate. That’s the case at the University of Vermont where following a lengthy RFP process, the university has signed a new, five-year dining services contract with current partner Sodexo. The new contract goes into effect on July 1.
Per a report on the The University of Vermont’s official website, the 14-member Dining Services RFP Committee represented students, faculty and staff. En route to a decision, the committee held in-depth consultations with 32 campus constituencies and governing groups, conducted a student needs survey, and held over 40 committee meetings since the process began in January of 2014. the result of the work is a request for proposal that the university believes reflects the future of campus dining.
According to the report, two viable firms submitted bids last fall and presented their proposals publicly to the campus last November. The result of the RFP process may come as little surprise, as Sodexo has been Vermont’s food service partner for the past 59 years. Nevertheless, the university embarked on an extensive selection process that began in December of 2013.
As part of the new contract, Vermont provided the following requirements:
- Greater integration of Food Systems academic initiatives into the campus dining experience. Initiatives will include partnerships with academic departments to support student internships; conduct food and nutrition research; collaborations to address food-related social issues; and greater access to education on food and nutrition topics.
- Enhanced options for food prepared by local vendors, with current vendors remaining part of the mix.
- Transparent sourcing – As much of the university’s food as possible will meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Sourced locally (within 250 miles) from independently and or cooperatively owned producers and the university farm, with the vendor’s national supply contracts used only for those products that cannot be locally sourced
- Special emphasis on capturing Vermont’s seasonal bounty
- Grown and harvested food using ecologically sound principles, including organic products and sustainable seafood
- Certified as fairly traded
- Certified for humane treatment of animals
- Expanded menu diversity with new international food offerings.
- New Eco-Ware Program. All first-year students will receive a washable, re-usable container to carry meals from the residential dining halls, which will reduce food packaging waste.
- Maximized use of fresh whole foods while minimizing the use of processed foods.
The contract will cover 17 total University of Vermont venues, including dining halls, retail locations and concession sites. The contract grants the vendor exclusivity of services at all designated venues. The university, meanwhile, will receive a financial return to assist with facility upgrades, equipment maintenance and program enhancements.