As part of its constant effort to improve both service and quality levels across campus, Food Services undertook the task of finding the right partner to deliver food services across campus in the coming years.
In January 2012, a committee of stakeholders from across campus was formed to review and evaluate proposals to select the next food service partner. The new contract was drafted on the basis of a transparent request for proposals (RFP) process conducted by a committee comprising student federation and University administration representatives along with other students and staff drawn from across the campus community.
“We’re very excited about the extensive project that will expand and redesign the dining area at the UCU and we are committed to eliminating debit fees at all our locations across campus,” said Food Services director Patrick Genest, who has promised to consult students before any UCU renovations take place. “By expanding the range of food choices, we aim to continue building on the improvements we have implemented over the past three years.”
Other initiatives include:
- Setting new sourcing benchmarks for local food and sustainable seafood
- Continuing to develop and implement sustainable practices on campus
- Continuing to donate viable surplus food to the SFUO food bank
After a thorough review of the proposals, the committee selected Chartwells as the best option because it allowed the committee to leverage improvements for students, such as the initiatives listed above, as a direct result of the recent contract negotiations. The new contract is also built on a hybrid model that allows food trucks like Relish and Stone Soup, as well as independent chains such as Première Moisson and student-run locations to offer nutritious, affordable food alternatives on campus.
“It’s something that is relatively unique to uOttawa,” said Genest. “Not all Chartwells campus contracts allow other suppliers, like Gabriel Pizza or Bento Sushi, on campus, or provide the variety that we offer and will continue to offer to our students.”
Under the new contract, all Chartwells employees will be required to meet the same bilingualism requirements as University employees, which was not the case under the previous contract.
“All employees hired by Chartwells will have to pass a test administered by the University’s Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute,” says Genest.
Chartwells has also committed to deliver a minimum of four continuous improvements every year to incorporate further sustainable practices, promote a healthy lifestyle, provide nutritional education to the university community and provide a variety of healthy, high-quality food on campus at an affordable price, with quality service and fresh ingredients.
“These types of initiatives are a step in the direction of improving food services on campus. It’s encouraging to see things like local sourcing, sustainability practices, and greater opportunity for alternative options on campus,” said outgoing SFUO president Ethan Plato. “If this new contract continues to grow the hybrid model, allowing for more student-run and independent providers, then it should be successful in providing affordable and nutritious food to our students.”