Lafayette announced today that its Food Service Task Force recommended Bon Appétit Management Company as the College’s dining services preferred partner. Beginning this summer, Bon Appétit will manage the all-you-care-to-eat student restaurants in the Farinon College Center and Marquis Hall; other retail dining venues, including the Farinon Food Court, Gilbert’s, Simon’s, and Skillman Café; catering services; and vending. It will be charged with developing menus that put a premium on student choice and providing food options that maximize nutrition, sustainability, and creativity.
For the 2013-14 academic year, meal plan options for students will remain identical to those offered currently. Investments in the dining facilities and programs are planned for this summer, with additional investments scheduled for the summer of 2014.
“On behalf of the Lafayette community, I would like to express appreciation to Sodexo and its employees for outstanding service to the College during the company’s time as our dining services provider,” said Mitchell Wein, vice president for finance and administration.
Elaine Smart, regional vice president of Bon Appétit, said, “Bon Appétit Management Company is passionate about supporting and strengthening the bonds of community for all of our partners. We do this through offering delicious food that draws people together as well as by connecting our employees and our student guests directly to the source of that food: local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and artisan purveyors. We will be pleased to welcome all of Lafayette’s eligible food service employees to our team so as to begin our partnership on a strong foundation of community.”
Bon Appétit, based in Palo Alto, Calif., provides food services to colleges and universities, corporations, and other institutions in more than 30 states, including the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Wesleyan University, and Hamilton College. All food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. An industry leader in environmentally sound sourcing policies, it has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farm-worker welfare, among other initiatives.
The Food Service Task Force, comprised of representatives of the student body and the faculty as well as professionals in the Division of Campus Life, the Division of Development and College Relations, the Division of Finance and Administration, and the Office of Admissions, began a thorough review of the dining program in October. It included focus groups, surveys, comparative analyses, site visits, proposal reviews and candidate interviews, among other elements.
Kari Fazio, associate vice president for finance and business operations, said, “We were very fortunate to receive very strong, compelling proposals from several qualified firms. It made the work of the task force incredibly difficult. After much deliberation, the task force thought that the program and quality of food that Bon Appétit can provide will be appreciated by our students, faculty, and staff and take our dining program to the next level.”
The task force’s decision incorporated substantial input from students, faculty, and staff. “Community input was integral in the process,” Fazio said. “In the fall, we hosted several focus groups with students, faculty, and staff to solicit feedback and conducted a campus-wide survey that yielded more than 600 responses. During the spring semester, there were open forums with the administration and with potential providers at which members of the campus community provided insights that were important to the process.”
Communal dining plays an essential role in the student experience at Lafayette and promises to become even more significant as the College implements components of the Lafayette360 initiative, which includes a more intentional approach to integrating curricular and co-curricular aspects of students’ education and supporting students throughout their developmental arc over their four years on campus.