After a 10-year partnership with Chartwells Dining, Saint Louis University will begin searching for the best food provider to satisfy their future appetite.
“We expect to receive proposals [from future providers] on Sept. 30,” said Evelyn Shields, Student Development Director of Business and Auxiliary Services.
Chartwells Dining Services contract is set to expire by the end of the school year, at which point their contract will either be renewed or a new provider will take over. Should a new provider be selected, Shields assures that the transition will be seamless as always.
SLU’s partnership with Chartwells began in June of 2002, after previous food provider Sodexho’s contract was terminated after 15 years at SLU.
“For the past 12 years Chartwells wholeheartedly focused on becoming a part of the SLU community,” said Jason Fitch, resident district manager of Chartwells Dining.
Since its inception in 1997, Chartwells has expanded to serve nearly 250 campuses in the U.S. Their tagline, Eat.Learn.Live, promotes a commitment to building strong bodies, sharp minds, and the foundation for a longer and healthier life.
Whether or not SLU students invest in this promotion, however, remains to be seen.
Last year, SGA surveyed students on their food habits and preferences. When asked how satisfied students were with the current dining program on campus, a majority of students claimed to be neutral on the topic, while 30% claimed to be dissatisfied and 24% responded that they were satisfied.
“[Our] primary concern is to ensure the next contract is awarded to a food provider that prioritizes student concerns and is receptive to adapting to the current needs of students- even within a contract,” said SGA President Vidur Sharma.
The survey also indicated that the majority of students crave a wider range of ethnic foods on campus and would prefer an all-flex meal plan.
“The results will be used to evaluate what currently is and is not working under the existing contract, as well as to determine what students prioritize most in the next contract,” said Sharma.
SGA will continue to play a role in the proposal and decision-making process until a suitable provider has been established.
Chartwells feels that they fulfill that role and have been enhancing SLU’s campus since the beginning of their contract.
“Chartwells has delivered continual enhancements to dining operations including the opening of Au Bon Pain, the introduction of Billiken Fest and the implementation of industry-leading sustainability programs,” said Fitch.
Other changes Chartwells has implemented include the addition of SLU’s vegetarian Terra Ve cafe and the new International Caffe in the Center for Global Citizenship. There are now 24 Chartwells eatery sites at SLU.
These additions to SLU’’s campus, however, do not quite compare to the one that has seemed to touch the students’ hearts: the staff.
SLU’s food service staff has become a part of the University’s community as well as a part of the students’ daily lives. What will become of the current employees is an issue that will not be overlooked.
“There is a great affinity between SLU students and the current Billiken Dining staff,” said Sharma. “SGA would like to see as many staff retained as possible between contracts.”