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Northwestern exploring new food service strategy

Seeking bids to create a University-wide, high-quality dining experience for all

EVANSTON - Northwestern University will soon launch a comprehensive review of its food service strategy and seek proposals from providers to help transform the University’s food service and dining experience on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

Aiming to create a University-wide, high-quality food and dining experience, the review will start with the office of Procurement and Payment Services announcing a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit plans and seek bids from food service firms interested in competing for the contract.

The extensive process will include input from many stakeholders — including students, faculty, staff, SustainNU and others. It will be driven by an enterprise-wide food service strategy that prioritizes excellent food, optimized services, creative meal plans, sustainability and cost effectiveness for Northwestern and its customers.

Food service is a major factor in creating an optimal campus experience and a sense of community. Local sourcing, partnerships and hiring will be a priority for this next contract. The new contract will cover services that range from campus dining/meal plans, conference center support services, catering and concessions at athletics events, and vending.

Departments and schools involved include Student Affairs, the Kellogg School of Management, the Department of Athletics and Recreation, the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, the McCormick School of Engineering and Auxiliary Services.

Current food service agreements on campus all expire at the same time, giving the University a chance to review and reimagine its food service strategy while conducting a campus-wide RFP process to establish a comprehensive new contract beginning in the fall quarter of 2018.

“This review is not a direct reflection on the past performance of any particular vendor currently providing services to Northwestern,” noted Jim Konrad, executive director of Procurement and Payment Services, which is leading the RFP process. “We expect strong proposals from all of the major providers of food service.”

The University has engaged a food service consultant to advise Northwestern during the RFP process. The RFP is expected to be issued in early October 2017. During the next year, Northwestern will be providing regular updates to its community throughout the process.