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Trent considers options on food-service contract

By Joseph Quigley

PETERBOROUGH – Trent University’s food-service contract has been under review by students and staff this week.

With Aramark’s 15-year contract to provide food services coming to an end, a series of open forums has been held to discuss which company will take over.

There are four short-listed companies, and each presented its proposal in a formal session at Lady Eaton College. Students and faculty were able to attend the presentations, and then ask questions and make comments.

The Trent Food Service Review Committee, which is charged with making the final decision, hosted the events and collected the feedback from the Trent community.

The short-listed bidders are Philadelphia-based Aramark, Trent’s current provider; Brown’s Dining Solutions, a smaller company based in Kingston; Chartwells, a British-based multinational; and Sodexo, a French-based multinational.

Each company was evaluated based on a number of factors, including financial sustainability, ability to offer local and sustainable food options, ability to renew the university’s food facilities, and nutrition.

Michael Koscieza, a student and member of the Champlain College cabinet who was attending one of the forums, was pleased with the format.

“Anyone’s voice can be heard,” Koscieza said.

The forums help ensure that the process of deciding on a food-service provider will be democratic, he added.

The review committee is comprised of presidents and members of the four college cabinets, two university directors, and a representative of  the Trent Central Student Association.

The search for a food-service provider comes at the expiration of Aramark’s 15-year contract, coupled with a growing discontent with food service on campus. According to a TCSA report entitled Raw Deal, released in late 2012, 97 per cent of 661 Trent students surveyed were dissatisfied with the university’s food service in some way.

Koscieza said a food-service provider would need to satisfy those student concerns in order to gain his approval.

Julian Tennent, another student who attended one of the forums, said the new service provider needs to allow for ongoing student involvement in food decisions.

With the forums completed, the next step for the review committee is to decide on a lead bidder and then negotiate a new contract with that company. The committee expects to announce the details of the final contract in early March.