University changes dining providers, looks to increase partnerships with minority owned businesses

| Editor-In-Chief

Elle Su | Student Life

Washington University is switching its dining provider from Bon Appetit Management Co. to Sodexo Food and Facilities Management, May 19. The University plans to increase partnerships with minority-owned businesses in the satellite dining locations on campus.  

Bon Appetit terminated its contract with the University after over 25 years of business, three years earlier than its contract was set to last. In the transition to Sodexo, all current employees of Bon Appetit will be able to retain their jobs if they reapply.

Bon Appetit did not answer questions from Student Life regarding why it terminated its contract with the University, when the company let the University know it would be terminating its contract, or whether the company will face consequences from the University for terminating its contract early. 

Jason McClellan, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Services, said that Sodexo will offer all workers currently contracted with Bon Appetit jobs at the same or higher rate of pay as they have currently. 

“As a University, we are requiring that all Bon Appetit employees who wish to remain at WashU will have an opportunity to remain with the new provider,” McClellan said.

Additionally, Sodexo will be honoring the time of service that each Bon Appetit worker has already served when deciding their benefits.

Shanay Robinson, a dining employee who works with Bon Appetit, said she attended a Q & A session for BA members to ask questions to Sodexo leadership.

“It was brought to our attention that everything will be the same,” she said. “We’ll still have our jobs, our seniority will be the same, everything will be the same; it’ll just be a new name. So it’s great news.”

McClellan said he does not know whether Sodexo will bring service workers already working for Sodexo to the University, but that it is a possibility.

Student Life also asked McClellan whether dining workers will have the same time off as they had under Bon Appetit. 

“Sodexo offers comparable benefits and will meet with Dining team members to review benefit offerings,” McClellanhe said.

According to an article in The Source, “the university expects all people currently employed with Bon Appetit to have comparable opportunities with Sodexo under the new partnership, with no loss in pay or gap in benefits.” 

Employees will have to complete an employment packet to be offered a job under Sodexo, but will not have to interview for their positions. 

McClellan said that one of his main priorities in the transition of dining services is ensuring that “our team members who are a part of our community are taken care of. My hope is …we can start working with them on the transition and making sure that they feel comfortable.”

Jenny Slafkosky, Director of Communications for Bon Appétit Management Company. said that Bon Appétit will assist current employees “interested in applying for other open positions within our company.”

During this transition, the University is looking to increase its partnerships with local minority-owned businesses in its satellite locations, which are all food locations on the Danforth campus except for Subway, Bear’s Den, the Village, and the DUC.

“We’re hoping to leverage the change to make a stronger commitment to the local economy and to our local region, as well as to minority businesses in the area,” McClellan said.

These partnerships could range from a local business creating another brick-and-mortar location on campus, similar to the owners of Coffeestamp Roasters opening a second café location in Hillman Hall, to having businesses sell food items at cafés on campus.

The University also asked Sodexo to at least maintain the current number of locally sourced food resources and ideally buy 25% of goods from local food groups. 

Additionally, the University is looking into providing an “all you care to eat” option in the coming years, McClellan said. Administration has hired Bakergroup Consultants to look into how the University could make this option possible.

There are no current plans to alter meal plans, outside of changing with inflation, he said.

“I’m happy to say that we’ve been able to maintain a lower level of increase compared to the overall inflation rate in the United States and in the St. Louis area,” McClellan said.

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