Last updated: Wednesday, February 28th at 8:20 p.m.
Last fall, Trinity launched a request for proposals (RFP) to select a new dining service provider. The university signed a letter of intent to continue with Aramark instead of Sodexo or American Dining Creations, the two other services the committee reviewed. Aramark has been the university’s dining services provider since 1984.
At a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Feb. 26, Juan Luevanos, a sophomore SGA senator and one of the students on the RFP committee, revealed the decision.
“Ultimately, the vendor came out to be Aramark, so what we want to stress — what the committee wants to stress — is that things are going to be changing and to have an optimistic feeling with regards to Aramark,” Luevanos said.
Luevanos recognized that often students have negative opinions of Aramark, but emphasized this as an opportunity to improve.
“Obviously students wanted something new, but what I want to stress … is that the point of the committee wasn’t necessarily to bring y’all a new vendor,” Luevanos said.
“It was to bring y’all new experiences, higher-quality things that sort of were at issue and to improve upon that consistently. … That’s the end goal of this committee.”
According to David Tuttle, dean of students, the proposal consists of a five-year contract and many potential changes to the way dining services works now.
“Some of the things that are in the plan that I would assume you’ll respond positively to is that, for starters anyways, it looks like [Mabee] will be open later hours — up until 10 o’clock at night during the week,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle explained that they’re also looking into allowing students to take out food if they are not on the unlimited meal plan and creating a system that would allow meal swipes to be used in the Commons.
Bruce Bravo, senior director of conferences and auxiliary services, was a key player in the RFP process. He explained to SGA that these potential changes are things that the university will negotiate with Aramark.
“The proposal was excellent,” Bravo said. “The next phase is that we sit down with Aramark and negotiate the contract, which means we can’t be very specific or definitive now. The idea is that we have opportunities now; we’re no longer in an unlimited contract.”
Aramark executives explained their proposal in a forum held in Northrup 040 on Wednesday afternoon. Jerry Dean, the director of strategic development at Aramark, announced plans to replacing Grille Works with Steak ‘n Shake, adding Starbucks to replace EcoGrounds in the library and offering a sandwich shop at the P.O.D. Express in the Center for Science and Innovation.
While the forum was put on to solicit feedback from the student body, fewer than five students and about as many faculty members were in attendance.
The RFP gave the university the opportunity to select a new dining services provider. Of the eight providers that initially expressed interest, only three submitted proposals. A committee of faculty, staff and students made the decision after a nearly six-month-long process.
Paul Wright, director of business operations in the Tiger Card office, also played a big role in the RFP process. Wright explained that the committee used a consultant that has been used by the university in the past.
“We relied on them a lot to help us get this process started because this has not been done at Trinity,” Wright said. “We’ve had Aramark for a long time.”
With additional reporting by Julia Weis, managing editor