Universities to Award Contract Dining Operations to Sodexo which pledges to Surpass 20% Local Food Commitment and Invest $14 MM in Campus Facilities
Sodexo commits to source 25% to 30% of food locally by 2020 and pledges effort to retain
high performing, non-management dining staff currently working in campus dining facilities
BANGOR, MAINE – The University of Maine System announced today that Sodexo achieved the highest evaluation score as part of its review of proposals to provide dining hall, retail, and food catering services at six of the system’s seven universities starting on July 1, 2016. The current annual value of these services is $12 million. The original RFP (#12-16) was released August 31, 2015 with a November 4, 2015 deadline for submissions.
In May of 2015, the UMS Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new policy directive that called for a preference for local, sustainably produced food.
As part of the RFP, Maine’s public universities committed to source 20% of food served at its campuses locally by the year 2020. The University of Maine, which administers its own food service program and already sources nearly one-fifth of its food purchases with Maine vendors, joined the 20% by 2020 local food commitment. Based on current statewide food expenditures of $8.6 million annually across all seven Maine public universities, purchases with local producers are expected to exceed $1.5 million per year by 2020.
In its proposal Sodexo committed to achieving the 20% local food target in year one of the contract and has pledged to source between 25% and 30% of the food it serves locally by the year 2020. Sodexo, which currently provides dining services at several other Maine institutions, announced last month the hiring of a director for its Maine Course Program, a statewide initiative launched in June of 2015 to prioritize serving local and sustainably harvested food at client sites throughout Maine.
Local food in the new food service contract will be defined as food harvested or produced within 175 miles of any campus to ensure that every corner of the state is considered local to a Maine university. Producers or processors who qualify to do business with any campus as a local provider will be eligible to sell local food to all seven institutions.
The University of Maine System’s award winning procurement department is working with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension and food economy leaders to establish a governance group to help oversee the local food commitment in the upcoming contract and to assist local producers who want to do business with Maine’s universities. This governance group will also work with local food advocates to identify future and expanding opportunities to support Maine-based food businesses.
“That a proven institutional vendor like Sodexo can commit to sourcing at least 25% of the food it would serve in our dining halls from local sources is a testament to the growing strength and reach of the Maine food economy,” said James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System. “As a customer, as a research leader, and through our academic and business development programs, Maine’s public universities will continue to contribute to this impressive, job-creating growth.”
“The contributions and leadership of concerned students, campus experts, Maine producers, and local food champions improved our understanding of just how far we could go with local food,” said Rudy Gabrielson, Chief Procurement Officer of the University of Maine System. “We are thankful for all the input we received and will continue the engagement as we work with our new vendor to create even more opportunities for local producers and to provide our students, staff and guests with as many locally-sourced, sustainable food choices as possible.”
As part of the bid that achieved the highest overall evaluation score, Sodexo also made the following operational commitments:
• An improved menu and expanded food choices for students, faculty, staff and guests;
• Maintaining costs at or below current levels;
• Investing up to $14 million in campus facilities, catering, internships and other activities aimed at having an excellent dining experience; and
• A retention effort to maintain employment opportunities for high performing, non-management staff currently employed in campus dining halls. While not committing to a specific result, Sodexo reported in its bid materials that their retention efforts in prior transitions of a similar nature have retained 80% or more of existing, eligible employees.