Pitt selects Compass Group as next dining contractor

A+student+swiping+into+Market+Central.

TPN File Photo

A student swiping into Market Central.

By Jon Moss, News Editor

Pitt has selected Compass Group, a British multinational food service company, as its new single-source dining contractor beginning July 1. The University previously worked with Sodexo for 29 years as its contractor, with its most recent 10-year contract ending this year.

Pitt’s contract, which ensures that several thousand students are fed daily, consistently ranks as the largest single payment made by the University each fiscal year — it approached nearly $34 million between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019.

[Read: The inside scoop on the dining contract negotiation process]

A committee of students, staff members and administrators from across the University vetted the companies who replied to Pitt’s request for proposals for the dining contract. The committee included three students, as well as representatives from the Division of Student Affairs, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Office of Sustainability and several other units.

University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the vendor review process includes a variety of important criteria for the University community, such as menu diversity, sustainability, quality, innovation, value and service. Food safety — a topic of concern after a rash of numerous high-risk violations at Market Central last academic year — was also part of the process, Zwick said.

Zwick said Pitt selected Compass Group following this comprehensive review process.

We are confident Compass Group will meet Pitt’s high standards for quality, safety and service for our students, faculty, families and employees,” Zwick said.

He added that all current Sodexo employees will have the opportunity to remain in their current roles, with compensation that is equal or better to what they receive now.

Meredith Rosenberg, a spokesperson for Compass Group’s Chartwells Higher Education division, said the company plans a “transformation” of dining services in partnership with Pitt.

“We look forward to the opportunity to bring our extensive campus dining experience and capabilities to the University, finalizing details in the coming weeks,” Rosenberg said.

Sodexo said in a statement that the company remains committed to their partnership with the University.

“We are continuing to negotiate, in good faith, our continued ability to serve the University of Pittsburgh,” the statement said. “We value our long standing partnership with the university and supporting them, even as we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Daniel Rudy, the president of the Resident Student Association, was one of the students on the review committee. Rudy said he used his position as RSA president to help solicit student input about campus dining services, including taking emails and comments from hall councils.

“We’ve already got a bit of a system set up to be listening to students around campus, getting feedback from the different residence halls,” Rudy, a junior math, computer science and economics triple major, said. “We’ve taken a lot of feedback just that we’ve heard anecdotally over the past couple years.”

Students outside of the three on the committee have also had a chance to contribute feedback on bidders’ ideas through focus groups that were held a few weeks before the end of the fall semester.

“We got feedback on them directly — ideas of what they liked, what they didn’t … some of the background stuff as well, in addition to menu upgrades or structural changes,” Rudy said.

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