After an 18-month partnership with global food vendor Sodexo, the Faculty Student Association at Stony Brook University has decided to initiate a request for proposals, or RFP, bid, according to an email sent out to students on Jan. 9 from FSA Executive Director Nadeem Siddiqui.
This means that the five-year contract between Sodexo and the university, which was intended to last through June 2020, is now at risk of being terminated. Proposals will be solicited from food service providers, including Sodexo, to find better options for student dining.
In the email, Siddiqui wrote that the current service provider Sodexo has “continued to fall short of expectations as demonstrated by quality assurance reports and customer satisfaction data.”
In the fall of 2016, student feedback was collected through surveys by the National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS), the “SBU Eats” texting line, a digital feedback form on the Campus Dining website, surveys conducted by Student Voice on Campus Dining and town hall meetings hosted by the Residence Hall Association and Student Voice. From here, it was determined that students were dissatisfied with menu variety and value.
Upon first collaborating with Sodexo, FSA posted on its Campus Dining Frequently Asked Questions webpage that “Sodexo rated highest overall based on its commitment to improving the services it will bring to the Stony Brook students.”
Sodexo, an organization that serves a total of 80 countries and 75 million customers, cites a 68 percent employee engagement level as well as a 20.2 billion euro (roughly $21.5 billion) consolidated revenue on its website.
At Stony Brook, students and staff across campus have voiced their disappointment with Sodexo’s services. From heavily satirical opinion articles to disgruntled posts in the Stony Brook Dining Feedback group on Facebook, students have taken to the internet to express their dissatisfaction with the dining options during the fall semester.
“We are interested in working with a partner(s) that can provide a varied selection of meal plans and food service offerings to serve the broad range of dietary needs and preferences of our diverse student body; deliver consistent high-quality food in a safe and comfortable dining facility, so that students can eat, study and socialize; and, offer meal plan options that adapt to students’ busy schedules,” Siddiqui wrote in his Jan. 9 email.
Siddiqui will be overseeing the bid process, while a bid selection committee of students, faculty, staff and administrators will be involved in the decision-making process. Once a final decision is made by the FSA Board of Directors following the RFP process, a new campus dining contract is set to be awarded in early May and the transition period is set to commence on June 1. Until then, the FSA claims that dining options will improve in spring 2017, with Sodexo as the university’s food service provider – a sentiment the vendor has promised to uphold.
“Sodexo has worked to build a strong partnership for more than 18 months with Stony Brook University,” Sodexo’s Regional Vice President Dan Auger said in an email. “We are committed to continuous improvement in quality and service, and will honor our commitment to serve the students, faculty, staff and community at Stony Brook throughout this RFP process.”
A tentative bid timeline and feedback forum have been made public at http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/fsa/campusdiningbidprocess/index.php.