After a months-long request for proposal bids assembled by the Faculty Student Association (FSA) in response to mounting campus dining-related negative feedback, the FSA Board of Directors has chosen CulinArt to serve as the university’s new west campus dining provider.
The highly anticipated decision was made public in an email sent by FSA Executive Director Nadeem Siddiqui on May 5. CulinArt, a Plainview-based division of Compass Group, will be replacing the university’s current food vendor of 22 months, Sodexo. The vendor beat out its competitor, Aramark, and rated highest overall in the review process in terms of its commitment to improving the campus dining experience, the email said. This means that Sodexo’s five-year contract will be terminated and that a contract with CulinArt is in the works.
The email also stated that CulinArt will bring “more value” to the campus dining experience, a declaration that may offer skeptical students, faculty and staff some consolation after months of mounting complaints. The complaints and student feedback were collected in the fall of 2016 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, town hall meetings hosted by the Residence Hall Association and Student Voice and the Stony Brook Dining Feedback Facebook page.
CulinArt, which currently operates “exclusively in the United States at 250 locations,” will commence its transition on May 27 and begin offering revamped dining services in the fall 2017 semester.
Changes to be expected include a freeze on current retail pricing and in-door prices, guest passes included with unlimited meal plans and meal exchanges for students with unlimited meal plans living in Roth and Tabler Quads. The May 5 email also mentioned a Roth Cafe conversion, which is planned to transform the location from its current dine-in state to a re-branded retail spot.