Virtually every university maintains a dining services department that is tasked with, among other things, providing food to hungry students. To help deliver these services, institutions turn to food service vendors to create a business partnership that puts food on the table.
After maintaining its dining contract with Sodexo for several years, Lexington, Kentucky’s Transylvania University is accepting bids from other dining service vendors in an effort to decide whether or not the university should go in a new direction. Per a release from the university’s student paper, The Rambler, the decision to accept bids was not a result of any problems with Sodexo, but because the university wants to exhaust all options.
“The main thing we want is for our Sodexo employees to know there’s no dissatisfaction with them or their services,” says Vice President of Finance and Business Marc Mathews.
Sodexo, too, has the opportunity to compete for the university’s contract, and has offered to renovate Transylvania’s campus dining center in exchange for a long-term contract with the university. The contract would last 10 years, and be valued at roughly $2.5 million per year.
Before extending their current agreement, however, Transylvania wants to hear offers from other vendors to ensure that the university’s money is invested wisely.
Transylvania is currently in the process of accepting bids after releasing a request for proposals. According to the report, nine different dining service vendors have already or will soon tour Transylvania’s campus and facilities before the end of the month.
Over the winter break, a review committee composed of faculty, staff and students will examine the options and select finalists by early January. The committee is designed to address food services from all key viewpoints including student life, health and financial considerations.
After their selection, the finalists will visit the Transylvania campus again to give formal presentations detailing the services they would provide to the university’s dining offerings.
The acceptance of bids in no way indicates that the Transylvania’s contract with Sodexo will end. In fact, officials close to the bid process stress that the best option moving forward may be their current vendor.
University officials hope to reach a decision by March 1, at which point Transylvania has an obligation to inform Sodexo as to whether or not it will extend the contract.