Campus looks to change University Dining Services

Calvin Skalet

A-T in depth: changes coming

With the contract between UW Oshkosh and Sodexo soon to expire, the University is deciding on the future of dining services.
The contract between UW Oshkosh and Sodexo expires at the end of June 2019. Any changes made to University Dining Services will go into effect in the fall of 2019.
Jean Kwaterski, executive director for campus life, said UWO will not renew its current contract; however, it will either bid for a new contract with outside companies, which could end up being Sodexo or run a self-operated system.

“When a dining contract ends, there is a possibility of extending a contract,” Kwaterski said. “This was done the last time Sodexo’s contract expired. We won’t be doing that this time. At this point, we will either go out to bid for a new contract or decide to run the food service ourselves.”
OSA president Jared Schadrie said UWO is deciding whether or not to put out a bid for an outside company or continue with the same company.
“The decision that is being made is whether or not we will put out another bid,” Schadrie said. “It could be to the same company [Sodexo] or to other outside companies.”

Kwaterski said the University will make a formal request in a situation where it bids for an outside company.
“If we ‘go out to bid,’ this means that we develop a Request for Proposal, or RFP,” Kwaterski said. “In the RFP, we outline specific things that the campus wants for food service. That is one of the reasons that we conducted focus groups recently to find out what students wanted for food in the future.”
Kwaterski said the University has gathered student input on this issue through focus groups and surveys.

“We will use information from the focus groups, information from the OSA survey and other surveys to develop the RFP,” Kwaterski said. “It can include what types of food we want, how much local food, sustainable options, what locations, meal plans or catering options.”
Kwaterski said at the end of the day, the dining services on campus will look different no matter what.

“Bottom line, the food service we have today will not be the same that we have with the new contract, no matter which company we have,” Kwaterski said.
According to Kwaterski there will be a need for student employees regardless of how the dining services will work in the future.
“Either way, students will need to be hired to work in food service,” Kwaterski said. “If we’re self-operated, we will need to hire double the number of students than if we went with a contractor.​”

Kwaterski said the number of employees would go up dramatically if UWO chose a self-op program.
“We would need to double the number of student employees that dining hires. This is approximately an additional 175 students,” Kwaterski said. “I’m not sure we could find that many students. Sodexo has a difficult time finding students who want to work in food services. Running a self-op program would also be a financial struggle for us to cover our costs. In the research that was done, we would run a deficit if we ran all the current dining operations as is, so we would need to modify the food service operations on campus to make sure we covered our costs.
Schadrie said with the budget cuts that have been made to programs such as the Student Titan Employment Program, there would be more students looking for employment.

“With our current budget situation, we’re cutting half of the STEP program,” Schadrie said. “They hire about 480 students on campus. If we’re cutting that in half, we’re talking about 200 jobs that are being lost. If we get a self-operated system, one of the first numbers I was shown was we would only need between 100-150 more student employees.”

UWO sophomore Patience Letko said she is not a fan of the current dining services on campus.
“Personally, I do not like Sodexo food service,” Letko said. “I think it is overpriced and not very accomodating.”
Letko said she believes the meals could be more affordable for the average college student.
“A meal swipe should feed a student, but one salad and a drink from Reeve is more than a single meal swipe and you are left to use your Titan Dollars to pay the rest,” Letko said.

Letko said in the future she wants healthier options offered.
“I want healthier snacks that are not over priced,” Letko said. “I’m sick of paying for a salad that’s $8. I might as well eat a Culver’s Scoopie Meal every day.”
Kwaterski said at the end of the day it is up to the Chancellor to make the final decision on this matter.
“​Ultimately, this decision is the Chancellor’s. He needs to take the information and make a decision that is the best for the University,” Kwaterski said. “The Reeve and University Dining staff will do our best to implement his decision.​”