Aramark has once again outbid all other food service prospects, following a ten-week decision-making process. The new contract is estimated to be implemented on September 1 of this year.
Forum After Forum
The current contract with Aramark Food Services is set to expire in August, so Evergreen released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for new bidders during the past Fall Quarter. This RFP was compiled by Residential and Dining Services (RAD), overseen by Director Sharon Goodman.
Four other companies bid for the new contract: Sodexo, Lancer Hospitality, Treat America and The American Version Southern Styled Cuisine, but Aramark’s proposal was selected as the strongest.
The decision was made after three public forums and multiple closed meetings with a scoring committee made up of Evergreen students, staff and faculty members. The names of the participants of this committee, as well as their scores for each bidder, are not yet available for public record.
During the forums, students discussed values they wanted to see from the campus’ next food provider such as the use of local food, more variety and more transparency with the food service provider.
Buying in Bulk and Fast Food
There have been hints to a possible shift in food options for the upcoming year. A survey from RAD went out to all students on April 2, inquiring about preferences of franchises like Panda Express, Starbucks and Subway.
While there has been no public release of any changes in the Aramark contract regarding the incorporation of fast food, Goodman said that new changes and expansions are in the works.
“Aramark wants to do some upgrades in the Corner Store and Seminar II Cafe,” said Goodman. She also talked about changes in vending and the possibility of bulk foods being sold at the Corner Store. “It gets boring when you’re on the required meal plan,” she said.
Is it Really Sustainable?
Use of sustainable and local food on campus has consistently remained a major topic of discussion for students.“Evergreen has hit 40 percent local/organic food, but we keep changing how we’re going to calculate that and it’s very complicated,” said Goodman.
Evergreen uses the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program to measure sustainability – specifically in the use of local food.
“The language used to discuss sustainability is so loose and doesn’t provide context…a lot of times things get counted as sustainable or local when they are not,” said a member of the Food Coalition Board.
“Aramark talked a lot about their partnership with local farmers and really working with more local food,” said Goodman. However, the Food Coalition board member stated that Aramark does not have a direct relationship with farmers and instead buys food from corporations like Sysco, who buy food from local farmers.
Goodman assured students that, “The old contract has a very small section about sustainability, [but] the new contract is going to have a very large section about sustainability.”
Spotty Health Inspections
In a 2012 inspection, health scores in the Greenery dropped down to 86 percent, with 45 total red flags. Recently, another health inspection showed Aramark received 100 percent compliance in all three food providers on campus, which shows an increase in health and sanitation safety. However, some students are still wary about eating on campus, “I want to be sure that my food is made in a clean and sanitary environment,” said freshman Emily Martin.
Aramark is Here to Stay
The new Aramark contract is made up of three terms, each lasting three years. As long as Aramark leads the bidding process, Aramark will win the food contract and continue to be the food service provider on campus for the next nine years.
By Hunter Paulson-Smith