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UVM Signs New Dining Contract to Better Serve Campus Community, Support University Values and Priorities

The University of Vermont has signed a new dining services contract with Sodexo that will better respond to student dining preferences, will provide greater integration with academic food system initiatives, and will be closely aligned with institutional priorities and values.

The Dining Services RFP Committee -- composed of 14 members representing students, faculty and staff -- used a fully weighted system in making their final, unanimous recommendation. Their work included in-depth consultations with a broad range of 32 campus constituencies and governing groups, a student needs survey, and over 40 committee meetings since January 2014 -- all resulting in a groundbreaking request for proposal that reflects the future of campus dining. Two viable national firms submitted bids last fall and presented their proposals publicly to the campus last November. The new contract goes into effect on July 1.

Sodexo, UVM’s partner for the past 59 years, was selected following an extensive process that began in December of 2013. Sodexo, a national leader in food service, currently serves 689 other colleges and universities and 463 K-12 schools across the country. They also provide services to 11 other campuses within Vermont, including the Vermont State Colleges.

“Campus dining is such an important aspect of the overall quality of the campus experience,” said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Annie Stevens. “At UVM it also serves as a vehicle to promote healthy lifestyles and strong connection to sustainability and support of locally grown foods that so many of our community members value. We are very excited that there are several elements of this new contract that directly support these values.”

Key elements of the new five-year contract that are closely aligned with university values include:

    •    Greater integration of Food Systems academic initiatives into the campus dining experience. Initiatives will include partnerships with academic departments to support student internships; conduct food and nutrition research; collaborations to address food-related social issues; and greater access to education on food and nutrition topics.
    •    Enhanced options for food prepared by local vendors, including the introduction of Skinny Pancake, Vermont Bean Crafters, and SoYo Frozen Yogurt. Current vendors such as New World Tortilla, Ben & Jerry’s, and Vermont Kosher will remain part of the mix. Local coffee offerings will be expanded to include Speeder & Earl’s and Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Company.
    •    Transparent sourcing – As much of our food as possible will meet one or more of the following criteria: 
    •    Sourced locally (within 250 miles) from independently and or cooperatively owned producers and the university farm, with the vendor’s national supply contracts used only for those products that cannot be locally sourced;
    •    Special emphasis on capturing Vermont’s seasonal bounty;
    •    Grown and harvested food using ecologically sound principles, including organic products and sustainable seafood;
    •    Certified as fairly traded;
    •    Certified for humane treatment of animals.
    •    Expanded menu diversity with new international food offerings, including the Asian steamed bun concept Wow Bao in the Marché and a new international food station in the Davis Center.
    •    New Eco-Ware Program. All first-year students will receive a washable, re-usable container to carry meals from the residential dining halls, which will reduce food packaging waste.
    •    Maximized use of fresh whole foods while minimizing the use of processed foods.
    •    And affordability, which is a core university priority.

In addition, as has been the case under the current contract, the university will continue to require prior approval of changes to wages and fringe benefits and working conditions of Sodexo employees on campus.

The contract will cover services at 17 total UVM venues, including dining halls, retail locations and concession sites. The contract will grant the vendor exclusivity of services at all designated venues. The university will receive a financial return to assist with facility upgrades, equipment maintenance and programmatic enhancements. This includes major renovations to six dining venues during the next two summers and the construction of a new dining hall planned to open fall 2017.