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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

End of contract prompts Dining Services to look at alternatives

By Carolin Scholz

As catering company Sysco’s contract expires, Dining Services is shopping around for different providers. While a possible change of suppliers might affect logistics in Dining Services, there will most likely be no profound change on the options, quality or price of the dining services programs as they seek to maintain the status quo.

“We have been with Sysco of Iowa as our main food supplier for six years,” said Director of Dining Services Richard Williams. “We are not necessarily unhappy with them or their service we just think it’s good business to take out the bid to see that we have the best possible deal we can get. … As far as the students go I don’t see any change”

Six companies, from Iowa and out-of state, responded to the Dining Service’s request for proposals before the April 29 deadline. The Dining staff will now choose a company and then start to negotiate a contract.

“Now there is basically a request for proposals from different companies, what they are going to give us what they can give us and dining services will select from that,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Holden Bale ’12, who sits on the Dining Services Committee.

The candidates come from all over the Midwest ranging from Omaha, Neb. to Rockville, IA and other parts of Iowa: Sysco, Hawkeye Food Services, Martin Brothers, US Food Services and Performance Food Services all applied to be Grinnell’s next food provider.

“It is not really about one company having better quality than another company,” Williams said. “It is a really competitive world and many companies purchase from the same manufacturers.”

As a private college, Grinnell has the liberty to not only go by price but also look at things such as delivery times, delivery days, online ordering, marketing and other services.

“Even if it’s Sysco [that] we stay with we hope that they sharpen their pencil and we would be able to get a better deal price wise,” Williams said, emphasizing that though it’s not the only criterion, price does matter.

If Dining Services decides to go for a more expensive option, it will most likely not affect the cost of eating in the Dining Hall, as the Meal Plan pays for much more than just the food. The contract Dining Services is looking to make will most likely be for a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years.

The change will likely be completed by next semester according to Williams.

“If we would decide to go with a new company we would make the transition between now and the first part of July so we would be in full swing by the time we open in August for fall term,” Williams said.

Dining Services requires that the supplier deliver items that a typical college might not need, such as certain spices, oils, herbs, on a regular basis without the Dining Hall having to special order them.

“We have a premium program and eight certified chefs …and the students benefit from that area by the productivity …almost all the things we offer are made from scratch, we don’t purchase entrees and just put them out,” Williams said. “We require some very special items.”

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