Home CommentaryOpinions Chartwells nourishes the student body, but at a cost

Chartwells nourishes the student body, but at a cost

by The Concordian November 29, 2011
Chartwells nourishes the student body, but at a cost

There has been a lot of controversy at Concordia surrounding the last Board of Governors meeting and the implications of the financial report that was presented to the public. Notwithstanding the high salaries that executives enjoy, the focal point has been placed on a company called Chartwells.

Chartwells, which is a division of Compass Group —a food service company with an operating budget of over $1.4 billion—has been distributing food on campus since 2002.

It was announced that the company, which is part of food services, a subset of ancillary services which also includes retail stores, parking, advertising and residences, has been losing money since last year: $51,000 to be precise.

The controversy has been as to why the university keeps funding a company that is losing money. Of course, the issue is slightly more complex than first reported.

“The university does not fund Chartwells,”said Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota. “Chartwells bids on a contract, like multiple other companies, and a committee at Concordia then makes a decision based on what is best for the university.”

In this regard, Chartwells operates independently under the umbrella of the university. The university takes into account the financials of the company under its food services division, but it does not fund the company directly.

A list of questions were submitted to Chartwells and to Roger Côté, vice-president of services at Concordia, but answers were not provided by press time.

At the BoG meeting, Côté explained that the $51,000 liability comes from investments made under its food services division; some related to food outlets, and spaces at Loyola that are not performing well and various renovations on campus.

He also said that the university eventually expects to see a return on its investments.

Chartwells offers various meal plans for students on residence. The students are required to sign up for a meal plan with Chartwells in order to guarantee their room in residence. The price, which varies from $3,640 to $3,980 for a 34-week meal plan, amounts to about $10 per meal for 10 meals a week.

In that sense, the contentious issue that needs to be debated is not whether the university should terminate its contract with Chartwells, but whether providing students with one single option for meals on residence is acceptable.

More choices—healthy choices—should be offered to students on campus, whether in residence or not.

We should not kid ourselves as to how a university operates. Its goal, like any other company or corporation, is not only to provide a service for a certain price, but to make money. Profit is and will always be the bottom line.

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