In preparation for the expiration of Concordia’s food contract with Chartwells in May 2015, a Food Advisory Working Group has been put together by the Services office of the Vice-President to decide on a new food services provider. The group is open to different ideas and wants as much input from students and administration as possible, while they’ve already begun making improvements to Chartwells.
”We’re trying to give a voice to the people actually eating the food,” said Sabrina Lavoie, Executive Director of Hospitality Concordia and chairperson of the Food Advisory Working Group.
No specific criteria for the next contract has been decided yet since it’s still early, but healthy eating and sustainable practices are considered crucial.
To ensure all areas of Concordia are given a voice, representatives from multiple organizations have been notified: the Dean of Students Office, the Concordia Student Union, the Graduate Faculty Association, the Concordia Food Coalition, Hospitality Concordia, Health Services, Residence Life, as well as faculty, staff and students.
Lavoie remarked that one member of the group has had a meal plan for over a year and isn’t shy to give his views on what should be improved.
“There was no such consultation before. There’s good communication right now and I really want to keep it that way.”
So far, the group has met three times. They’ll be meeting every two to three weeks until December to discuss the necessary standards for the next food contract that will likely last seven to ten years.
“[The process] is important because it’s such a huge contract,” said Lavoie. “We want to make sure the winning bidder will be a good one.”
In selecting a new food service provider, Concordia has to follow specific regulations imposed by Quebec laws, making it a lengthy process. First, the established criteria for the new contract must be approved by VP Services, then a Request for Proposals (RFP) document will be made. This will be a public document anybody can add a proposal to, provided they’re able to offer their suggested services. The proposals will then be evaluated according to Concordia’s established food service requirements. After financial negotiations, the winning vendor will be selected, marking the start of the new food services program.
Lavoie, however, said the group isn’t waiting two years to start making changes.“We’re acting right now because we believe we can make a difference right away.”Such changes to Chartwells includes offering more salads and fresh fruits and vegetables.
While a student run organization could be part of the new contract, Lavoie said they might not be capable of providing almost a thousand meal plans per day. This does not mean food retail outlets cannot be run by students, as options are still open and a divided contract is a possibility.
“We’re not closing doors on any options right now,” said Lavoie.
While Chartwells and Hospitality Concordia currently manage many spaces at the university, the People’s Potato, Java U, Café X, the Hive and Guadagni Lounge are independent outlets that will not be affected by the new contract. According to Lavoie, “Hospitality Concordia has no intention of getting rid of such spaces.”
At the end of September, Hospitality Concordia will conduct a university-wide food services survey geared towards what can be done in the future. There will also be open discussion sessions at both the Loyola and Sir George Williams Campuses this month.
Students are encouraged to send feedback to email@example.com