Boise State and ASBSU prepare for food service vendor transition from Aramark to Chartwells Higher Ed

Photo by Claire Keener
By Fenix Dietz and Julianna Gee

On Jan. 28, Boise State announced Chartwells Higher Ed as the university’s new dining services vendor, replacing Aramark as of July 1 for a five-year contract. 

Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) and Boise State Dining Services expressed confidence in their ability to make a relatively smooth transition.

Third-party food-service providers also expressed similar views but were positive about Aramark, as well. 

This change follows a very controversial year for Aramark among students, which saw Aramark struggling to employ students within Dining Services, resulting in an official condemnation from ASBSU.

The 2021-22 academic year was an extension of the original five-year contract between the Aramark and university,

During the last year, Boise State hired consultant company Brailsford and Dunlavey to “develop plans for the future of dining services.”

Nimmons said that the consultant company recommended creating a fee-based contract and key performance indicators as a way to guide financial incentives with the next food vendor, which would allow the university to better adapt to changes and meet the needs of the student body. The university found Chartwells Higher Ed to be the best choice.

Dining places in the Student Union Building, Aramark transitions to Chartwells
[Photo of dining options in the Boise State Student Union Building (SUB).]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

“[Chartwells] bid response is connected to advancing dining services through experienced leadership with a focus on a close-knit relationship with the campus,” Nimmons said.

Nimmons also clarified that this process occurred before the staffing issues that Aramark and the university experienced this last fall semester.

ASBSU President Kenneth Huston went to an event at the University of Utah recently with ASBSU Vice President Sarah Smith to see Chartwells in action. They tried the food, spoke to the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) and met the Aramark-Chartwells transition team for Boise State.

“The fact that [ASUU] barely knew Chartwells’ name speaks to what a non-issue dining services is at their school,” Kenneth said in an email. “Students are happy, the food is good, and we at Boise State can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and that our days of mistreatment have an expiration date.”

ASBSU has also been involved in the negotiation process for the contract with Chartwells, offering consultations and opinions upon request. The organization is also working closely with the Dining Services Committee.

Despite ASBSU’s warm reception to Chartwells, the University of Idaho (U of I) has experienced their own share of troubles with the food service vendor.

According to the student-run newspaper, The Argonaut, Chartwells experienced its own issues with staffing and food quality at U of I.

When asked about this, both Huston and Nimmons expressed that they felt Chartwells had responded quickly and efficiently, working alongside U of I to address the problem.

Chartwells Higher Ed has not directly responded to the article from The Argonaut. 

In response to the new contract with Boise State, Chartwells’ communication vice president Meredith Rosenberg said in a statement:

“Chartwells is excited to be a part of the Boise State University community and create a premier food service program that emphasizes quality, made-to-order food, menu customization, variety, value, student success, and forward-thinking innovations.”

Chartwells also provided a link to the new website where important updates and jobs will be posted. Current employees are able to continue in their positions pending a background check, according to the statement. 

“With priority placed on the care and concern of our people, we are committed to extending a conditional offer to all existing associates … Associates will receive compensation equal to or better than what they receive now,” the statement said. 

Aramark declined to comment on the contract change. 

Aramark van
[Photo of an Aramark van on campus.]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

Due to the official condemnation from ASBSU, Aramark made changes to partially meet demands in the 2021 fall semester. Additionally, Aramark received many criticisms from students in past years as well

Despite student criticism of Aramark, Tree City owner Roy Atkinson has had a positive relationship with Aramark in their business dealings. In regards to students’ claims, Atkinson said “we didn’t see any of that” and has maintained a positive relationship with the vendor.

“As a business owner, I appreciate that relationship with [Aramark]. If I ever needed anything, they were easy to get a hold of and very responsive. [They’re] a good company to work with,” Atkinson said.  

Atkinson also currently has a positive outlook on Chartwells and doesn’t anticipate any differences or major changes to Tree City and other third-party vendors. 

“Sounds like they’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel when they come right in … They kind of want to keep a local vibe,” Atkinson said.

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