Approved by the: TC Campus Assembly - February 18, 1999

RESOLUTION REGARDING UNIVERSITY FOOD SERVICES

FOR INFORMATION

The Senate Committee on Finance and Planning (SCFP) solicited of all faculty their views, positive and negative, about the campus food service as provided through the University's contract with Aramark.

SCFP heard about the initial negotiations with Aramark during three meetings in 1997, and expressed concerns about service standards, the ability of the University to go from losing money to profitability by signing the contract, and about projected income and expenses, and asked that the administration consult with it on the uses to which any income was put.

Over the last several months, members of both SCFP and the Faculty Consultative Committee have heard repeated and strongly-voiced objections to the food service on the Twin Cities campus. Over 150 responded to an email request for opinions; faculty (and staff) expressed overwhelmingly negative views. They perceived an increase in price and a decrease in quality, service, and choice. (The one exception seemed to be Sostanza, in the basement of Moos Tower.)

SCFP met recently with University officers responsible for administration of the contract with Aramark. They, too, expressed disappointment with the results, but cautioned that Aramark has really only had about six months in which to operate, after an initial six-month period when no changes were made. SCFP was told that the University would make known its dismay with the delivery of food on campus.

SCFP was concerned that the vending service had been separated from the food service by contract and use of funds, and it noted that the University has not provided adequate and inviting spaces for either.

One issue with which SCFP took issue was the designation of the food services (University Dining Services) as an "auxiliary." In the University budget lexicon, it falls in the category of units that are expected to generate a modest profit which can put to other uses. SCFP was assured that the profit generated thus far was very small ($400,000) in relation to other University revenues, but it was not clear to SCFP why the food service should even be expected to produce a profit.

On the basis of the issues raised by SCFP, the Assembly Steering Committee believes that the food service on the campus perhaps should NOT be expected to make a profit, and might be provided a subsidy. The Committee urges that food service at the University be considered a common good or shared interest that is part of its foundation that is spatially and financially available to all members of the community. The development of attractive eating areas, with diverse foods that are reasonably priced, of reasonable quality, and delivered with friendly service is essential if the University is to build a strong academic community. As places for the advancement of community, where students, faculty, and staff gather for intellectual as well as social exchanges, eating areas can enhance the daily life and experience of those who come to campus.

The Assembly Steering Committee urges that University treat the establishment and operation of food service locations as shared goods essential to the well-being of all the members of its community.

On the basis of what it has learned and heard from SCFP, and what we have been told individually, the Committee recommends that the Assembly adopt the following resolution:

The Assembly urges the administration to take the following steps with respect to the provision of food on campus:

FOR ACTION

The Twin Cities Campus Assembly recommends to the administration that:

  1. It should review the operation and management of the food service in light of the severely adverse comments that have been made by faculty, staff, and students about quality, price, and service.

  2. The food service should be shifted from the budgetary category auxiliary to be considered a common good, shared interest, or part of infrastructure. Give serious consideration to dropping any requirement that food service generate a profit and use any surplus from the operations to upgrade the food service itself.

  3. It should consider viewing food service and vending as a single financial operation so to improve its financial status. This may require a change in the distribution of the income from the contract with Coca-Cola.

  4. It improve and create more spaces for intellectual and social commerce on the Twin Cities Campus and establish, through appropriate surveys and communication with the University membership, what kinds of eating establishments would be most attractive and most used. (Some information may already have been collected in preparation for negotiations with vendors before the contract was signed.) The information provided to SCFP suggests that whatever people would find attractive is not now being provided.

  5. The food service operations should adhere to the Board of Regents policy entitled "Pollution Prevention and Waste Abatement," including reduction of wastes at the source, such as disposables, and "vigorously pursue waste abatement programs such as recycling, reuse, and purchase of recycled materials to reduce the need for disposal of waste.

  6. It should be prepared to take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

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