Kathryn Stroud —
Chartwells’ ten-year contract with Illinois College ends this year, leaving the door open for perhaps other food-providers to serve the campus.
Vice President of Business Affairs Frank Williams says, “[It] is really what we consider part of good business practice […] when a contract ends, we do a bidding process. It doesn’t necessarily mean Chartwells is out, it means we’re going to let Chartwells bid just like any other company and see who has the best bid.”
Six to eight companies expressed interest in the bid. That list was narrowed down to what Williams refers to as the “credible companies.” These are the four companies that could service the needs of the college, as well as meet the level of service that students would expect out of a food company.
The four companies that made the cut were Sodexo, Airmark, Food Services Inc, and Chartwells.
In mid-April, this list of companies will be narrowed down to the final group. Williams expects it to be two to three companies that will meet with the on-campus committee that was created. After that, the committee will make a recommendation as to which company to hire for a five-year contract.
The members of the on-campus committee were chosen based upon a connection to food service. The committee is made up of seven members and each member comes from a different division of the College, such as Director of Admissions Evan Wilson, Director of Residential Life Dennis Schumacher, Allison Perkins ’16, and Dean Carlson.
Williams says that the committee hopes to have made a selection by May 1.
As for the ideal food service company, Williams says, “The number one focus is the student board plan […] It is what kind of food plan can they put in place [that will] keep students happy. [The students] are why we are all here.”
Whether or not prices will increase or decrease remains undecided. Currently, the price for room and board is in the middle of IC’s reference schools – which are the schools that IC is like or wants to be like.
The food plan fee is not completely determined by the food service. The company provides the College with a cost, which is determined by the cost of food for that particular year, but the amount IC pays the food company and the amount IC charges the students are not the same. Students also pay for the use of the facilities – if a machine breaks down, IC pays for it, not Chartwells.
Williams believes that the final outcome will be beneficial for the students.
“I’ve been at colleges for a long time and the biggest complaints by students are about parking and food service. No matter how good the food service is, if you eat there three meals a day, seven days a week, you get tired of it. So we’re interested in a food service that can change things up – have special events or change the menu now and again, things that will keep the students excited about the food service.”