Inside look: the University's dining contract

Philadelphia-based firm has exclusive athletics, on-Grounds food supply contract

The University is continuing its search for a new dining hall provider, with its current contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark formally set to end July 1.

According to its contract with the University, Aramark currently has “exclusive rights to the University’s business in the Rotunda, all University dining locations, Newcomb Hall Ballroom and Commonwealth Room, the Colonnade Hotel, the John Paul Jones Arena and all suites located at Scott Stadium.” Additionally, Aramark is the “exclusive operator of the merchandise concession in University athletic venues.”

The contract stipulates the company is paid through an entitlement which consists of operating expenses, corporate overhead charges and a sales profit. Corporate overhead charges represent 3 percent of gross retail, board sales, gross concession sales and gross vending sales, while profit is defined as 2 percent of gross sales for board and retail operations and 5 percent of gross concession and vending sales.

In return for conducting business at the University, the contract also delineates Aramark is required to pay “University guarantees.” These include 14 percent of board and retail gross sales — or $2.5 million — 45 percent of “concessions gross sales at Scott Stadium, University Hall, Klöckner Stadium, and 15 percent for all other concession gross sales” — or $300,000 — and 25 percent of vending gross sales — or $250,000.

The contract also required Aramark to have invested $3.1 million “for certain facility renovations and the purchase and installation of food service equipment [and] an amount of $2,500,000 for the construction of new dining facilities or the renovation of existing facilities.”

Over the course of the contract, “ARAMARK will commit $300,000 … to upgrading and improving concessions facilities and equipment.”

Even as facilities are renovated, many students judge the effectiveness of a dining hall provider based on its presentation of food options.

Though Aramark works with University Dining Services to provide “healthy choice options” and respond to “special dietary needs of students,” some students said they were still unsatisfied with those options presented.

“As a vegetarian, I would like to see a greater variety of options in the dining halls,” second-year College student Noopur Tripathi said.

Other students said they are concerned with the food choices later at night.

“I wish the dining halls had greater diversity with healthy options, especially later in the evening, since usually only unhealthy options remain late at night,” first-year College student Pierce Eggan said.

The University has yet to announce which provider will replace Aramark.

“The University has not yet made an announcement on the dining contract,” University spokesperson McGregor McCance said. “I do not have a specific date for such.”

Aramark representatives could not be reached for comment.

Published April 20, 2014 in News

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