Q: What was the process for making this decision?
A: The process in selecting a dining service vendor was extensive, and involved collaboration and input from all areas touching the student residential dining experience. To guide Barnard through this process, the College hired JGL Consultants, a food service consultancy firm specializing in mission-based nonprofit dining needs.
The consultants met with functional areas and departments invested in dining throughout campus, and attended town halls and SGA meetings specifically to gather feedback from students. The feedback received at these town hall and SGA meetings created the framework for the RFP proposal, which was submitted to 10 possible bidders. Ultimately, the College received strong proposals from five vendors and established a shortlist for committee interviews and presentations.
Q: Were students involved in the process?
A: Yes. There was a student representative on the selection committee, and several students joined the committee on site visits to other schools to evaluate the quality of food and the operations of the finalists.
Q: Why was Chartwells selected? What set them apart from the other companies that submitted proposals?
A: Key areas identified in student conversations were finding a dining service vendor experienced in serving diverse communities with wide-ranging dietary needs, incorporating technology into the customer dining experience, and creating a unique “Barnard” feel to dining on campus. On these areas of evaluation, Chartwells scored the highest marks with the committee.
Q: Who participated in the decision-making process?
A: Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldberg led the recommendation committee, which was composed of representatives from the Finance Office, Campus Services, Facilities, Student Life, Residential Life, and the Student Government Association.
Q: When will Chartwells take over?
A: We anticipate that Chartwells will take over in July 2019.
Q: What will happen to Aramark’s food service employees working on campus today? Will they get to keep their jobs?
A: All employment decisions are ultimately decided by the food service provider. Chartwells has already reached out to the Aramark employees’ union and plans to interview all current hourly employees with the intent of hiring all qualified staff to be part of the new team.
Q: Are they committed to hiring union labor?
A: Yes. Chartwells has a history of successful and productive union relationships.
Q: How does this change in dining vendors affect my meal plan?
A: For the 2019-2020 academic year, the College does not anticipate making any material changes in the meal plan offerings. Over the next year, we will work with students and Chartwells on whether and how to modify meal plans to meet the needs of our students.
Q: Is my meal plan going up next year because of this change?
A: The College is still in the process of determining rates for the next academic year and will make those public in the coming weeks.
Q: We had hoped that Columbia Dining would take over the service on Barnard’s campus too. Why didn’t that happen?
A: As part of the process, Columbia discussed dining services with us and determined that the current Columbia-Barnard Meal Exchange works best for both institutions. The benefits that Barnard and Columbia students receive from the current meal exchange will remain.
Q: Will students be able to work with Chartwells during the transition?
A: Yes! We are excited to have student input throughout the transition and in the years to come. While we want to engage students in the immediate offerings of the dining service provider, the College and Chartwells will also be partnering on a major renovation of Hewitt Dining Hall. The College is eager to involve students into how to best to establish a community feel within Hewitt Dining Hall.
Q: How do we contact them to give suggestions on what dining options we’d like?
A: The College will be working with Chartwells on a transition plan that will include student participation. You can send questions or suggestions by texting 929-205-5585 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Will Chartwells be the only dining service for the entire campus, including Liz’s Place and The Milstein coffee bar?
A: Chartwells will be the exclusive provider for all residential dining on campus, including Liz’s Place and Peet’s Coffee Bar.
Q: Will they expand locations?
A: At this point, Barnard is not anticipating additional dining locations; instead we are focusing on renovating and refreshing the existing dining outlets.
Q: Is there any chance they can add excitement to our dining options? Experiment with different types of foods and seasonings?
A: Yes. One reason why the College selected Chartwells was its ability to provide innovative and exciting scratch-cooked menu items with many ingredients sourced from local farms and vendors. Chartwells wants students to be the driving force in the dining program and will be open to feedback on menu options both during the transition and over the coming academic year.
Q: What will the dining hours of operation be next year?
A: We anticipate that the dining hours of operations will be the same as this spring semester.
Q: Can we still swipe at the Columbia dining facilities?
A: Yes, Chartwells is committed to honoring all current terms and conditions of the Columbia-Barnard Meal Exchange.
Q: What about Midnight Breakfast and the Big Sub? Will Chartwells continue these Barnard traditions?
A: Chartwells is excited to continue the traditions of Midnight Breakfast and the Big Sub and is looking forward to collaborating with the student body in establishing new traditions.
Q: What changes can we expect to our dining options? Are they going to expand services for our diverse student body?
A: Yes. Chartwells will provide entirely new menus that will accommodate the dietary needs of all of our students, including enhancing kosher, halal, vegan, and other allergen-free options.
Q: Is Chartwells committed to supporting local vendors?
A: Yes. Chartwells will procure nearly a third of all produce and proteins from local farms and vendors. Chartwells has made local purchase a key component of the dining program.
Q: How will Chartwells meet students’ dietary needs and restrictions such as kosher, halal, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian?
A: Chartwells looks forward to engaging with students on all these dietary issues and restrictions. Extensive conversations will be held with the kosher- and halal-observant communities, both in terms of the immediate offerings in the fall of 2019, as well as extensive involvement with both communities for the Hewitt Dining Hall renovation plans. Greater vegan and vegetarian offerings will be introduced in the fall of 2019, with a focus on increasing variety and options for students adhering to plant-based diets.
Q: Will there be separate food preparation areas for kosher and halal?
A: Yes. We will work with Chartwells and interested students to evaluate the food preparation area requirements for both kosher and halal dining in the near term and as part of the renovation plans for Hewitt Dining Hall.
Q: What kind of changes will there be in Hewitt Dining Hall? The facility is old, and it doesn’t really serve the needs of our diverse community.
A: A key part of the Chartwells proposal was introducing a complete renovation of the Hewitt Dining Hall experience to be a cornerstone of student life on Barnard’s campus. Student input in the look, feel, and design of the dining hall will be important. The design and planning process will take place during the next academic year with the goal of completing the renovation for the start of the Fall 2020 academic year.
Q: How are they going to use technology to improve the overall food experience for Barnard students?
A: Increasing the technology interaction with food services is a key element of the dining program. Mobile ordering will help nourish students throughout their busy days, adding an element of speed and convenience to their campus dining experience. Signage in all dining locations will also use technology to display ingredients and other nutritional information.
Q: Several of our dining sites on campus are very crowded at peak hours. Can they do anything to improve services during those times?
A: While the College is excited about the mobile ordering offerings, the College and Chartwells will be looking at traffic flow and ordering ease in the campus locations to improve the speed and convenience of the service during all mealtimes.
Q: Will they also be doing all the catering for campus events?
A: Chartwells will be a preferred caterer for on-campus events.
Q: Are they responsible for the vending machines on campus?
A: Yes, Chartwells will be providing vending machines on campus. Chartwells has committed to providing cashless options in all vending machines on campus.
Q: How does Chartwells plan to help the College deal with issues of food insecurity?
A: Chartwells is committed to working with the College on issues of food insecurity and will never turn away a hungry student. Chartwells will provide the College with annual funding to help tackle these issues and will work with the College on a meal donation program. The College plans to continue the program begun last fall to provide meal swipes toward the end of each semester for those students who are low or are out of swipes.
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
Q: Does Chartwells have dining services in prisons?
A: Chartwells has never provided any food service operations within any correctional facilities.
The parent company of Chartwells, Compass Group NA, does not have any companies that provide dining service operations at any United States correctional facilities. Compass Group made a conscious decision to no longer serve meals in prisons and divested all remaining interest in its corrections division in 2014. Unlike others in their industry, Compass Group does not have a prison-dining-focused division.
Q: Is the company committed to hiring veterans?
A: Chartwells partners with Hiring Our Heroes, a nationwide initiative established by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses attain meaningful employment opportunities.
Q: Barnard has a growing sustainability program on campus. What is Chartwells’ commitment to sustainability?
A: Chartwells is committed to minimizing their own carbon footprint through using responsible purchases of food, buying local and organic when feasible, encouraging energy conservation with responsible equipment-use practices, and focusing on eliminating food waste. Chartwells will also be donating annual grants to the College toward sustainability projects on campus.
Q: Is Chartwells going to bring in more locally sourced food, especially fruits and vegetables?
A: Chartwells will procure nearly a third of its produce and proteins from local vendors, with a focus on New York State.
Q: Are they going to go above and beyond in working with students on different types of health and wellness initiatives?
A: Balanced, nutritious vegan and vegetarian meals are available every day, at every meal. Additionally, Chartwells will be providing a staff dietitian to regularly assist students with choosing functional foods that provide health benefits; the dietician will also be available for student counseling sessions.