John Brown University is opening the search for a new food service provider. The University’s search committee sent out a request to companies to begin negotiations.
Aramark’s three-year renewal contract with the University ended last year. The company will continue services over the next two semesters until the committee decides on the right bid. Stephen Kerr, Aramark food services director, declined to comment.
“Everything that Aramark is doing right now will affect the bid,” said Steve Beers, vice president of student development. “If they are successful then they will stay and renew their contract.”
If Aramark is not successful then most of the staff will leave with the company. Negotiations can be made with the new service provider to allow certain staff to stay if a staff member makes a request.
“JBU is requesting food service proposals as a matter of due diligence,” Kim Hadley, vice president for finance and administration. “It is an ongoing effort to provide the best value for our students in the combined package of food quality, price and service.”
Senior Kristen Hanko said there are some changes she would like to see to the food provided.
“I had a twelve meal plan and ended up only going to the cafeteria five times a week,” Hanko said. “I went for breakfast only to get a bowl of cereal. I paid more for a meal plan but still had to buy my own food.”
“I would like to see good vegetables and fresh fruits,” Hanko said. “I would also like to see more chicken because there are so many ways to prepare chicken and you don’t just want to eat a burger or pizza every time.”
The University sent out a request for proposal on Sept. 6 to 11 food service providers. The request includes the administration’s expectations, deadline dates and information about the school. A few of the companies include Aramark, Creative Dining Services, Pioneer College Caterers and Bon Appetite Management Services, Inc.
“The requested information included stakeholder questions from a broad range of individuals on campus,” Hadley said. “These included concepts relating to sustainability, integration with the University’s culture, creativity, and flexibility, along with the more typical topics of food quality, consistency, pricing, responsiveness, efficiency, scalability, staffing, and communication.”
Proposals must be submitted by Oct. 15 to be reviewed by the committee. The committee will make visits to the companies’ sites in October and November. In early December, finalist on-campus interviews will occur. The food service provider will be notified on Jan. 15 and operations will begin in June 2013.
A committee was formed with staff from different departments on campus, including representatives from:
• Student Government Association
• President’s office
• Student Development
• Alumni Relations
• Academic Affairs
• Facilities Services
• University Advancement
• University Events
• Finance & Administration
• Center for Relationship Enrichment
• Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics.
“We are here to serve our students,” Beers said.
Beers said that when the list of food service providers has narrowed down to between three and five companies, then the President’s Cabinet will step in to give more input. Members of the cabinet include Beers, Don Crandall, Ed Ericson, Kim Hadley and Jim Krall.
“When I came to JBU 15 years ago, we were ranked number 12 or 15 on U.S. News and World Report and now we are number one,” Beers said. “What does that look like for our food services? Our food services should be the best in the South and meet the expectations of the school.”