During this week’s Student Government Association meeting, Student Trustee Justin Connolly announced that the University had officially terminated its contract with Sodexo dining. Dr. Kimberly Tobin, vice president of administration and finance, assisted Connolly in answering questions regarding this change.
Instead of Sodexo, the University will be using UMASS Amherst’s food services as a guide as they move forward with this new, university-run dining service, which will go into effect on July 1, 2016.
“We really want to give you food that you love, not that you tolerate,” said Tobin.
Many senate members were concerned about the fate of the current DC workers because of this sudden change. Tobin assured that the University was in the midst of working on this. Many of the workers are University employees, so they would be able to stay with the University’s dining service. The University is still negotiating the contracts of the managers who work specifically for Sodexo, but they are willing to buy out some of these people and take them on as University employees.
“We’re committed to the employees,” Tobin assured.
Class of 2016 representative Shannon Cullinane asked if the proposed to-go cup program that Maria Lees spoke to senate about at last weeks meeting was still to be enacted.
“There’s a lot more to sustainability than charging you for cups,” Tobin said.
In regards to the future of dining sustainability, Tobin said that the quality of the food would drastically change. Where the food would be coming from, as well as reduction in food waste, would be priority. Smaller portion sizes and changes in serving methods would be part of these changes as well.
Marissa Cremin of the community relations and fundraising committee asked about the future of the Sodexo scholarships, and Tobin guaranteed that the scholarships would not go away; however, in the future, these scholarships would not be under the Sodexo name.
Rebecca Kennedy, University Hall representative, asked if there would be a Sodexo bucks equivalent with this new dining service. Tobin said that there would be, but like the scholarships, they would not be through Sodexo and would no longer be called Sodexo bucks.
“They will be negotiated in a way that works for students,” Tobin said.
Lammers Hall Representative Molly Lucey was curious about the fate of the MyZone and Simple Serving stations in the DC, which are reserved for students with food allergies and other specific food needs. Tobin said that these types of stations would remain in the DC, but would be improved and more efficient than the current stations.
Brandon Trafford, vice president of finance, asked if Tobin knew how much money would be saved by terminating the contract with Sodexo with the University running the dining services as a self-operation.
Tobin first explained to senate that the University had been working with Sodexo since 1994 and was supposed to be in a contract with them until 2021. From 2008 to 2012, the University took out loans through Sodexo. The early termination contract requires that the University pay back these loans, which total $700,000. Tobin said that the University was paying these loans back gradually every year anyway, and that the $700,000 would be paid out of a DC reserve account and not from students’ pockets.
In regards to finances in the future, Tobin said that it depended on the meal plans going forward, but approximately $500,000 to $700,00 could come back to the institution in additional revenue.
“I think you will be amazed when you come back in September,” said Tobin.
Dean of Academic Technology Tom Raffensperger also spoke at this week’s SGA meeting in regards to the future of printing on campus, a topic brought to SGA a few weeks prior.
Raffensperger spoke to senate about a proposal to allocate 400 sheets of paper per year for each student at no cost. After this initial allocation, each additional sheet of paper printed would be five cents a page. This proposal is aimed at saving money, trees, and reducing the University’s carbon footprint.