Rowan administration is nearing the final stages of negotiation regarding the implementation of New Jersey–based food catering company Gourmet Dining as the university’s on-campus food service for the 2014-15 academic year.
The contract, which Rowan Executive Vice President for Administration and Strategic Advancement Tobey Oxholm said will begin on July 1, will officially remove Sodexo as Rowan’s food caterer.
“It’s one of a couple of things we’ve been really working on,” Oxholm said. “We had heard about students’ concerns with food, whether on Facebook or directly to us. We decided to put it as a top priority, and this decision came out great.”
Oxholm said Sodexo was notified that their contract would not be renewed last week, and that the company gave employees a 60-day notice and information to fill out applications to stay with Gourmet Dining. However, according to a notice filed with the state, 281 Sodexo workers will be laid off.
Among the discussion in negotiations is the possibility of national food chains coming to Rowan.
“We talked about bringing in companies like Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Chipotle to campus,” Oxholm said. “We’re also going to expand Dining Dollars so that they are available for off-campus locations as well.”
Oxholm added that food service locations may be added to spots on campus such as the University Townhouses, Engineering Hall, Bunce Hall and the Chestnut Lot — “places around the campus.”
The decision to commit to Gourmet, located in Madison, was punctuated by a group of select Rowan students and administration visiting a Gourmet location at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York.
Student Government Association President Surbhi Pathak said the experience they had was “phenomenal.”
“The second we stepped out of our van, I was blown away,” Pathak said. “They were so personal and nice, family-oriented, very respected, we heard no complaints from the students at the college and the food was very nice.”
SGA Director of Public Relations and Special Events Max Shatz was also on the visit and said that he believes Gourmet could provide a stronger emphasis on the university community than Sodexo could.
“Gourmet is a significantly smaller company and only service locally for now,” Shatz said. “However, they are very used to growth, which is evident with [their contract with] Seton Hall.”
Pathak added that there was talk about Gourmet also bringing a food truck service to Rowan.
Oxholm said that negotiations are still ongoing with the company and Rowan’s Board of Trustees, but that talk has already begun with a contractor. He’s excited for what’s to come this year from Gourmet.
“They’re a New Jersey company with rave reviews and local food, so it’ll be very welcoming to people with different food needs,” Oxholm said.
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