Hunt for private food vendor moves slowly

Nancy Ngo

Delays are plaguing the process to select a private-sector partner for University Food Services.
Officials expected to have a vendor chosen before spring quarter began, which raised concern within several groups on campus that the process was moving too fast. However, scheduling conflicts and the need for vendor information have slowed the process considerably.
“I have to agree that there would be some advantages to having a deal by June,” said Runninghorse Livingston. “But I’m not sure I’m being realistic.” Livingston is the only student voter on the eight-member committee that is charged with deciding which of two vendors to negotiate with.
An evaluation team met Tuesday to discuss presentations made by the two potential partners, ARAMARK and Compass: PFM. The group also discussed the need for continued input from students, faculty members and other members of the University community during the process.
Livingston said that because he does not have all the information he needs, he is not coming closer to a decision. He also said he wasn’t the only one who wanted to know more.
He said that he and other members of the evaluation team requested more information from vendors and then ended up waiting for that information to come, which has contributed to the delays.
University administrators are considering a food service partnership as a way to combat the operation’s financial losses. Food services, which offer vending, catering, dining and retail services, have projected a $1.1 million loss by the end of the 1996-97 school year.
Despite possible delays, Livingston said he would like the process to happen in a timely manner in which food services would not continue to operate at a loss. “The biggest thing is that we don’t lose money,” he said.
Some dates in the tentative timeline have been pushed back as a result of the delays, including the presentation before the University’s Vice Presidents Executive Council that was scheduled during spring break.
But Nancy Arneson, human resources director for Housing and Food Services, said the rescheduling will not delay the proposal process significantly. “It is not a big delay, but a slight delay,” she said.
McKinley Boston, vice president of Student Development and Athletics, could not attend the spring break meeting because he was out of town tending to Final Four basketball commitments.
At the presentation, which is now planned to take place April 9, Boston and Ron Campbell, associate vice president of Housing and Food Services, will show the council what a food partnership might mean to the University.