Northwestern faces a tough choice in the coming months: renew their contract with Sodexo, the current food service provider, or bring on Creative Dining, a second food service provider being considered for the campus. After serving the campus for decades, Sodexo’s most recent contract is up following the 2017-2018 school year.
The choice requires a long decision-making process that includes many steps and meetings. The process began by requesting proposals from food service companies; NW decided to only request bids from Sodexo and Creative Dining as they were the top choices in years prior.
After obtaining the bids, both companies presented their proposals for what they could offer the campus if they were to be chosen. The companies will also meet with groups on campus who often work with NW’s food service provider for events, including Student Activities Council and the president’s executive assistant.
The President’s Cabinet is the group that will be making the decision, which includes Doug Beukelman, Vice President for Financial Affairs, and Julie Elliot, Vice President for Student Life.
Elliot has expressed her desire to make sure everyone’s diet is in consideration when choosing a food service provider.
“I’ve reached out to all parts of campus to make sure we can get a good representation of students because I understand that what a male athlete wants from a food service is different from what a female vegetarian would want,” Elliot said. “It’s also very important that students with food allergies are included in the process.”
Along with the President’s Cabinet, the Student Government Association has been involved in the decision-making process. Members of SGA visited Dordt – which is served by Creative Dining – last week to see if they could tell a difference in the overall food experience.
Jimmy Tidmore, the vice president of SGA, explained that the food was “seemingly a bit better than Sodexo” in the one visit the group made. Tidmore also noted that Sodexo has had issues with student employees over the years, and Creative Dining seems to be able to hire and retain employees better.
If Creative Dining’s bid were to be chosen, they would be able to hire much of the staff currently working in the Caf and Hub, with the exception of Ned Price, the general manager who would have to continue working for Sodexo.
The company that is chosen will sign a three-year contract with the school, which is the standard contract. Sodexo’s most recent contract was seven years because the company offered to make renovations on the cafeteria.
This choice will be made within the coming weeks as the Cabinet continues to meet with various groups and decides which food service provider will be the best fit for NW.