University cancels contract with Aramark, finds new campus food provider

Dining hall staff member, Allison Latoski, hands a student a takeaway box in the Merill Dining Hall, Friday, Oct. 2

After about 25 years of serving food to students at Central Michigan University, the university has decided to cancel its contract with Aramark.

CMU announced on its website today that the Board of Trustees authorized President Bob Davies to sign a 10-year contract with Chartwells. The foodservice company will take over dining services starting July 1, 2021. One-year renewal options will be available after June 30, 2031.

The new contract includes CMU residential restaurants, retail food sales on campus and catering.

CMU first began outsourcing food services to Aramark in 1995 after the dining director position was scrapped. The latest contract between CMU and Aramark was set to end in 2022.

Chartwells is a company that specializes in foodservice, hospitality and guest services for higher education. According to its website, the company serves about 300 campuses across the country.

Cal Seelye, executive director of CMU Auxiliary Services, said in a press release that "CMU has been pleased with Aramark" but requested proposals for dining and food services at Aramark's request when it proposed a contract extension in 2019. After Aramark and Chartwells responded, a 10-person committee recommended Chartwells after an interview and selection process.

Seelye said patrons can expect more diverse food options. He said Chartwells reviewed the campus life master plan to explore gaps in current offerings and whether meal plans fit student needs.

 "We asked vendors to tie their proposal to a CMU Strategic Plan imperative," Seelye said. "For example, the 'nurturing student success' imperative ties directly to providing high-quality meals to students to better prepare them for academic success, along with providing student employment opportunities." 

According to CMU's website, current Campus Dining employees can apply for jobs with Chartwells pending successful background checks. All dining positions will be posted online.