Chartwells employees will not serve students for the first time in over a decade come fall.
“I visited a site yesterday, and the food was vastly different than what we have here, so I think whatever happens, we’re going to have a change for the positive,” said Ann Carrozza, Faculty Student Association director about exploring different food service companies to replace Chartwells.
Request-for-proposals are due on Friday. About eight vendors attended the pre-proposal conference on Feb. 22.
The FSA started reaching out to other vendors after Chartwells decided to leave the college in December as a result of low revenue. Chartwells proposed arranging a management service contract under which the vendor would have full control over running the food service. The FSA declined their offer.
According to the FSA, Chartwells plans to stay on campus until May 16. The FSA is currently trying to push the departure date further into the month. Carrozza hopes that by June, a new vendor will move onto campus.
Carozza expects the new vendor to bring change in meal variety, service and marketing.
“You still want the service people to get to know the students and greet every student warmly, and it’s not happening,” she said.
John Poole, director of food services, could not respond for comment.
Haley Scott, liberal arts student, wants lower prices from the next food service provider.
“I’ll only like it if it’s going to be less expensive,” she said.
According to Scott, she regularly orders pizza and fries due to the price of other options at the Campus Center cafeteria.
Last academic year, Chartwells increased their costs four percent. The increase, according to Poole, was due to rising costs such as union benefits and an over 20 percent increase in produce.
About 600 to 1,000 people pay for Chartwells food at four locations campuswide on an average weekday.
Stephanie Class, business administration student, hopes the next food service provider will change its service to other locations, such as the Marvin Library.
“That menu has to get changed with a little more variety in their options,” she said.
On the other hand, Garrett Lea, a biology student who eats at the Campus Center cafeteria about once a week, hopes that the next food service provider will be similar to Chartwells.
“As long as it’s the same quality [sic] because I feel like they do a fairly good job. There’s nothing to really complain about,” said Lea.
Aside from Chartwells, the most common food service providers for colleges in the area are Aramark and Sodexo. Aramark only claims space in Saint Rose, while Sodexo operates across the area at UAlbany, RPI, the Sage Colleges and Union College.
The FSA has come close to working with Sodexo in the past. In 2004, the choice for a new food vendor came down to Chartwells and Sodexo.
“It could’ve gone either way,” said Carrozza.
Dustyn Leonard, digital media student, said he regularly hears feedback on Sodexo from campuses across the Capital Region through social media.
“I don’t know if it’s a running thing, like it’s cool to hate on Sodexo, but everyone [I hear] does,” said Leonard.
UAlbany, under Sodexho Marriott management, experienced labor issues and a 2000-01 academic year E.Coli outbreak which lead to the hospitalization of six students. The college switched its food service to Chartwells in 2003 but switched back to Sodexo ten years later.
After experiencing the Sodexo food service about a year ago at the University at New Haven, Konner Bradlell, criminal justice student, hopes the college does not make the same switch that UAlbany did two years ago.
“Yes, it’s quick, but it’s just the same thing,” he said.
Before the FSA chose between Chartwells and Sodexo, food service to Hudson Valley was provided under Prestige Services since the late 1990s. With Prestige unable to start a debit meal plan and a food court with the Campus Center renovations (completed in 2006), the FSA moved on from the vendor.