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New partner to transform campus food service

Compass Group chosen to take over Northwestern's food service

EVANSTON - Following a comprehensive review of its food service strategy and an extensive search process, Northwestern University announced today (April 13) it has chosen a new provider to transform its on-campus dining experience.

Starting this fall, Compass Group will take over food service University-wide, creating a premier food service program that emphasizes affordability, sustainability, outstanding service and excellent food and beverage experiences.

The decision to partner with Compass, reached unanimously by a 17-member evaluation committee, concludes a six-month process in which the University reviewed proposals from Compass and two other companies currently providing food service on campus – Sodexo and Aramark.

“The University conducted a long and thoughtful process which included input from students, faculty and staff. It was a challenging process, and we are confident this is the best fit for the University,” said Jim Konrad, Northwestern’s executive director of procurement and payment services, who facilitated the process on behalf of all units at Northwestern responsible for food service.

“We are very excited to partner with Compass Group to create a premier dining experience across our campuses,” Konrad said. 

Compass scored highest in every step of the review process, and will deliver a best-in-class food service program that will leverage its individual units to provide an outstanding dining and retail experience across the Evanston and Chicago campuses, as well as in the University’s athletic venues.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, said the new food service plan was informed by Northwestern’s innovative approach to the residential experience.

“The Compass Group plan is designed to enhance our campus community and create a positive food experience for Northwestern,” Telles-Irvin said. “As we move toward a vision for a new residential experience and University Commons, we are excited to see how Compass Group will partner with Northwestern to create an innovative, creative, affordable and accessible dining experience for our students.”

The selection of Compass means existing relationships with Sodexo and Aramark will end.  However, Compass will ask 100 percent of the incumbent hourly associates to join them and be part of their mission and vision to deliver great food and service at Northwestern, giving them the opportunity to maintain their pay, benefits and seniority.

“We would certainly like to thank Aramark and Sodexo for their strong partnership with Northwestern over the last several years,” Konrad said. “They remain committed to providing high-quality service and food through the remainder of their contracts, which continue through the summer.”

Lisa McEuen, CEO of Chartwells Higher Education, part of the Compass Group, said that as a Chicago resident, she is honored to bring Compass Group’s student-centric dining experience to Northwestern.

 “We take pride in being an organization that puts our people first, treating them with care and concern and offering opportunities for advancement and learning,” McEuen said. “We look forward to developing high-performing teams on campus and working with current associates as they find a place with us at Compass Group.”

Compass Group sector Chartwells Higher Education will provide service for campus dining, student affairs retail outlets, the Chicago campus and campus-wide catering. FLIK will service dining at the Kellogg School of Management’s Allen Center and retail at Kellogg’s Global Hub, while Canteen will install the latest in vending technology. Levy will provide athletics concessions, premium hospitality and training table services, and Bon Appétit will bring their acclaimed culinary and best-in-class sustainability programs to the Northwestern campus. 

“This partnership with Compass Group will have a dramatic impact on both our student-athletes and our Wildcats fans,” said Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips. “Levy is one of the most acclaimed sports and entertainment hospitality groups in the nation, one committed to service and innovation. As we open a variety of transformational facilities this year, including the new Welsh-Ryan Arena, Levy's best-in-class performance will allow for exceptional dining experiences across training table, performance nutrition, concessions, premium hospitality and catering."

Levy President and CEO Andy Lansing said being chosen by Northwestern to create the future of sports hospitality experiences at all of its athletic venues is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Compass Group plan emphasizes high-quality food and exceptional service, and incorporates important University values, including a commitment to ensuring fair wages for food service employees, implementation of sustainability strategies and establishing local and diverse vendor partnerships.

Compass agreed to implement new technologies in the coming years, including mobile ordering and delivery, and to elevate campus dining by bringing in its large stable of award-winning and celebrity chefs.

“We’re confident that Compass will provide a premier dining experience and Conference Center Hospitality Services that our MBA and executive education students expect,” said William Garrett, chief administrative operations officer at the Kellogg School of Management. “We’re also thrilled that Aramark and Sodexo employees, many of whom have worked at Kellogg and been part of our community for years, will have the opportunity to stay at Northwestern with Compass.”

For more information about the new plan, including answers to frequently asked questions, updates about the ongoing food service transformation and contacts, visit the University’s dedicated webpage.

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