Food Service Review
As part of continuous improvement efforts, the College has elected to undertake a comprehensive review of the food service-related issues on campus during 2012-13 and beyond, including such elements as:
- Customer satisfaction (students, prospective students/families, faculty/staff and other constituencies);
- Dining options (format of venues, cuisine options – including special needs/preferences, hours of operations, meal plans, etc.);
- Facilities and equipment (both front of the house and back of the house);
- Relevant campus policies; and
- Catering, vending and concessions.
A Food Service Task Force was formed in early October, 2012 and has been working hard to perform the review. The Task Force was constructed to be sure it included people experienced with the Board programs, catering services for large and small events, dining’s role in sustainability and academic programming, and other diverse components of food service on campus. In particular, the individuals serving on the Task Force are:
|Kari FazioAssociate Vice President for Finance and Business Operations||Dining Services/Business Operations|
|Mitchell WeinVice President for Finance and Administration||Finance/Facilities|
|Sarah YenchaAssistant Director, Residence Life||Residence Life|
|Charles F. NutaitisAssociate Professor, Chemistry Department||Faculty|
|Paul McLoughlinDean of Students||Campus Life|
|Cody ZaccagninoFormer Secretary to SGA, Class of 2013||Students|
|Kristen QuirkAssociate Director of Development/Director of Special Events||Development & College Relations|
|Camille BrennanEvents Manager, Admissions||Admissions|
|Steve MylonAssociate Prof. and Chair, Environmental Science and Studies||Faculty|
The Task Force is being assisted by a food service consulting firm hired to facilitate the review process and lend knowledge of best food practices at other higher education institutions. The consulting firm is the Cornyn Fasano Group, Inc. located in Portland, Oregon, selected after a review of several firms.
The following are highlights some major steps in the process to date and expected as we move forward:
In early October, 2012, the Cornyn Fasano Group requested and reviewed documentation of various details of the dining program at Lafayette, including applicable current contracts, the meal plan options, the counts of students on the various meal plans, the financial results, etc.
In mid-October, the Cornyn Fasano Group conducted individual interviews and group focus sessions to gather more data with regard to the satisfaction of various campus constituencies and ideas/suggestions for changes. In particular, representatives (in some cases, multiple representatives) of the following components of the Lafayette community met one-on-one with the consultant (in no particular order):
- Campus Life
- Facilities Maintenance
- Outreach Center
- Finance and Administration
- Intercultural Affairs
- Residence Life
- Fraternity & Sorority Life
- Faculty in Environmental Engineering
- Facilities Planning and Construction
- Religious Life
In addition, there were also focus group discussion sessions including:
- 3 with faculty and staff (in which approximately 28 faculty/staff participated)
- 1 with the current Lafayette Dining Services managers (in which approximately 7 staff participated)
- 1 with current non-management employees within Lafayette Dining Services (in which approximately 8 staff participated)
- 3 with students (in which approximately 25 students participated)
In addition, during that mid-October time period, the consultant observed service in all of the dining venues and toured the facilities. A sub-contracted consulting firm also toured the facilities with a particular focus on the kitchen facilities and equipment. A report of that consultant’s opinions with regard to the state of the equipment and facilities has been provided to the College.
In late-November, the entire campus community (all students, all faculty and all staff) were invited to share their opinions about food service on campus using a written survey tool that was developed by the consultant with the Task Force’s input. We received responses from approximately 510 students and 125 employees.
In early February, the Task Force met with the consultant to review the key findings from the document review, the interviews/focus groups and the written survey results and discuss potential changes to the dining program.
Although the programmatic changes are still not finalized, the Task Force did decide to undertake a comparative review, including a Request for Proposal process to include our incumbent provider as well as others. The Task Force reviewed the list of higher education clients in the region (northeastern U.S.) of the major food service providers and decided to include six in the RFP process. The following firms received the RFP:
- AVI Food Service
- Bon Appetit
- Sodexo (the incumbent)
Representatives from all 6 firms attended an on-site meeting on March 5th. After tours of the facilities, the potential contractors met with two panels – one of employees and one of students. The participants in the panel got an opportunity to share their thoughts about what is important to them and/or to their constituencies with regard to dining services at Lafayette. The student panel included representatives of all 4 class years, some of whom were student athletes, at least one of whom lived off campus, two who had dietary restrictions, one of who is active in the LEAP student group and sensitive to sustainability issues, and more than one of who is involved in extra and co-curricular activities (physics club, crew club, student activity promotions, SGA, LEAP, etc.).
On March 11th, there was a student-organized brown bag lunch to discuss dining issues. Members of the Food Service Task Force attended to listen to the discussion as students expressed their interests and priorities.
In mid-March, several members of the Task Force plus some additional students, made unannounced visits to about seven other schools to tour their dining facilities, talk to students about likes and dislikes of the program at their school, taste the food (of course) and get some ideas about how other school’s handle dining.
Proposal from interested providers are due in early April. The Task Force hopes to narrow in on the top contenders and invited them to come to campus in mid-April to present highlights of their proposed programmatic changes in an open forum to which all students, faculty and staff will be invited. Attendees will get an opportunity to share their reactions with the Task Force in writing.
Although the schedule is aggressive, the Task Force hopes to make a decision by early May, with a new contract in effect for July 1st.
It is expected that certain recommendations that the Task Force develops may be introduced in 2013-14 (perhaps related to catering policies, hours of operations, etc.) while others (such as potential changes to meal plan offerings and requirements, significant renovations to facilities, pricing, etc.) might not occur until 2014-15. Certain recommendations may also warrant discussion with Student Government and other constituencies on campus prior to implementation.
If there are questions about the current dining program, the Task Force’s work, the RFP or any other related issues, please contact Kari Fazio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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