By Matthew Parris
After 45 years of service, Trevecca is reevaluating its contract with Pioneer College Caterers, and hopes to decide before graduation whether it will continue with them or choose a new provider.
“Pioneer, when they first came in, it was a new opportunity for Trevecca,” said David Caldwell, executive vice president for administration and finance. “I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that over the years, they have provided a lot of benefits to the school. I just think that now, with student tastes and expectations changing, it makes sense to see what options are out there.”
Since the fall, Trevecca has met with several other food providers, and the final decision is between Pioneer, Chartwells and Hallmark Management Service, Inc. The contract was listed at over $2.1 million in Trevecca’s 2016-2017 990 form.
“We’re not rushing into it by any means,” Caldwell said. “We don’t have anybody that’s an expert on it either, since we haven’t done it before, so I’m actually looking to have to hire a consultant that will help us evaluate the proposals so that our decision is as well founded as possible.”
The original plan was to make a final decision by April 1, but the hiring of a consultant will push the decision back further, said Caldwell. The cabinet hopes to make a decision before graduation.
While cost is one of the key deciding factors, it is not the only basis for the decision.
“I think that we have to look at wide variety of issues here,” said Jessica Dykes, associate vice president and dean of student development. “We want to have flexibility with our meal plans, someone who can continue to provide great service, good tasting food and options that are convenient and beneficial to the lives of a college student.”
Other concerns that have been voiced are accessibility of meals for commuter students, nutritional labels on the food, options for dietary restrictions, presentation and cohesiveness of meals.
“Sometimes you just get meals here that don’t go together at all,” said Ivan Palomares, ASB president. “We can’t have Asian chicken nugget night at the caf and not have rice as a side. It’s just one of those things.”
The president’s cabinet and groups of selected student leaders met and reviewed presentations from the three finalists. Some faculty visited at least three schools catered by Chartwell to see how they run operations.
“It’s our hope that students stay the focus of this decision and we understand their desires and needs,” said Dykes. “It’s really important. It really impacts our student experience, so we want to hear from students on this important issue.”
According to Palomares, students from SGA, RHA, PR, as well as RAs and peer mentors, were recommended by sponsors to participate on the process. They have sat in on presentations and been a part of focus groups to voice student perspectives.
“When I see a diverse group of people in the caf, I’ll say, ‘hey, what do you think?’ And I’ll bring those opinions to the meetings,” Palomares said. “That concept is something that I take into account, and I make sure that everyone else on that committee also takes it into account. ‘Go talk to people.’ That’s the only way we’re going to know anything is if we talk to people. Not everyone is going to come to us.”
Palomares encourages students to attend SGA meetings Mondays at 9 p.m. to provide their feedback, or to email him atIAPalomarezgonzales@trevecca.edu.