Ithaca College has decided not to renew its contract with Sodexo to operate the campus dining program, and will instead take those operations “in house.” The change is being made with the intent to provide improved programming, simplified meal plans, and a lower cost to both the college and to students. The new meal plan structure will be designed to help address food insecurity on campus.
Shortly after arriving at the college last July, Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Guerrero initiated a comprehensive review of the dining program from both an operational and pricing perspective. As part of that review, he met with Student Governance Council, conducted a campus-wide survey, brought nationally recognized food service consultants to campus, and held an open forum.
He noted that there were three options for the college to consider: retaining the contract with Sodexo, opening up the contract through a bidding process for all regional and national food service providers, or insourcing dining operations.
“After listening to questions and concerns raised by students and their families, and examining our options, the college has determined that moving forward with insourcing our dining services is our best course of action,” said Guerrero. “We still have many details to work out, but we are confident that through this approach we can provide a high-quality experience for our students at a reasonable cost.”
The plan to have the college operate its own dining services has been endorsed by President Shirley M. Collado and the college’s senior leadership team.
“This was an intentional, responsive effort, thoughtfully led by Bill Guerrero and wholly reliant upon collaborative and strategic partnerships that stretch across campus,” said Collado. “I am incredibly grateful for the tremendous work and creative leadership that went into this decision. Our students are at the core of everything we do here at IC, and this is a transformative step that emphasizes our student-centered approach and our deep commitment to the quality of their Ithaca experience.”
The contract with Sodexo will end on June 3, 2019, and the college will take over all campus dining hall and retail food service operations as of that date. Guerrero said the goal is for all current Sodexo employees who have the desire to work in this new relationship with IC to be provided with that opportunity. He noted that in the 1,900 responses to the survey, members of the campus community expressed a high degree of satisfaction with dining services employees.
Specifics regarding changes to meal plans and their pricing structure will be rolled out by the college in the coming weeks.
“Sodexo has been an excellent partner with the college in everything from creating the new allergy-free zone in the Campus Center Dining Hall to increasing sustainability in operations and procuring food from local sources,” said Guerrero. “Those kinds of programs will continue. However, we will now have 100 percent authority — and responsibility — over our dining operations, which will give us greater flexibility. I am excited by the opportunities this will bring, and look forward to working with the entire campus community to make those opportunities become realities.”