Iowa State University

News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777



Warren Madden, vice president for business and finance, (515) 294-6162

Tom Hill, vice president for student affairs, (515) 294-1909

Nancy Brooks, associate director of purchasing, (515) 294-8757

Q&A: Iowa State food service review

Food service companies both on and off campus will compete this fall for the opportunity to operate Iowa State's food service program. In this Q&A, ISU officials talk about the proposal review process, potential food service changes and what impact this process may have on ISU Dining employees, and ISU students, faculty and staff.

Why is ISU considering changes in the management of its food service operation?

Iowa State's goal is to provide its students, faculty and staff with the very best food service possible within the framework of a system that is financially strong. We intend to offer excellent service and high-quality foods that satisfy our customers' tastes and preference. The Request for Proposal (RFP) process will allow us to evaluate options for how to best meet this goal.

How will the food service contract be awarded?

ISU Dining and other food service management firms will submit proposals in mid-December in response to an RFP on providing food service for the ISU campus. A 21-member advisory committee will evaluate proposals submitted and make recommendations to the Vice Presidents for Student Affairs and Business and Finance. A contract for operation of Iowa State's food service would be awarded sometime in 2006. Any changes in ISU food services as a result of this contract likely would begin next summer or fall.

What kinds of food services would be covered by the contract?

The contract would include residence dining centers, campus catering, retail cafes and convenience stores, vending machines and the food court in the Memorial Union.

Who provides those food services now?

ISU Dining, which operates under the Vice President for Student Affairs office, currently operates all of these campus food services.

Who will compete for the food services contract?

Any qualified firms may submit proposals. Although we will not know for sure until proposals are actually submitted, we anticipate that ISU Dining will make a proposal on the contract and at least three firms (ARAMARK, Chartwells and Sodexho ) that provide food services on large university campuses across the country have indicated they'll submit proposals.

Who decides who gets the contract and how will that decision be made?

A detailed RFP will ensure that all bidders address the same issues -- things like maintaining staff and student employees, honoring the terms of the negotiated contract for Iowa State's merit employees, meeting existing debt services obligations and continuing to provide high-quality, affordable food service to the university.

A 21-member advisory committee of campus administrators, employees and students will review the proposals and make recommendations to the Vice Presidents for Student Affairs and Business and Finance. The consultant hired to develop the RFP, The Duffy Wilkie Group, will assist in evaluating the bids. When awarding the contract, officials will consider such factors as retail prices, food quality, service levels, and student freedom to use their meal plans at multiple food venues across campus.

How many university and student employees work in ISU Dining?

Approximately 800 students and 200 staff.

Will meal plan options change? Will meal plan prices increase?

Current meal plans are in effect for the 2005-2006 academic year. Changes for 2006-2007 could happen with any of the companies chosen, including ISU Dining. When benchmarked with other universities, ISU's current per capita expenditures for food are low. We hope to increase food choices on the campus.

What effect will the new contract have on students or university staff employed by food services?

Iowa State is very committed to all of its current employees. The RFP asks those who submit proposals to describe their plans for staffing the food service operation and to describe a variety of other human resources issues, including their proposed wage scales. The advisory committee will carefully evaluate the proposed staffing and human resources components of each proposal.

Will food services leadership or internship opportunities be available to students under the dining contract?

Students will continue to have leadership, promotion and internship opportunities under the new contract. Because some of the firms bidding are international organizations, it is possible that these opportunities will increase. That will be an important issue as we review proposals.

Some international students are only eligible for on-campus employment. If the contract for operating ISU food services is awarded to an outside firm, would student positions with food services still be considered "on-campus"?

Student positions would be considered "on-campus," even if an outside firm operated Iowa State's food service.

Where and how can students/faculty/staff provide feedback about the process?

The RFP process is being coordinated by Purchasing. Individuals can send comments to Nancy Brooks, associate director of purchasing, 294-8757,, the Vice President for Student Affairs, 294-1909, or the Vice President for Business or Finance, 294-6162.


Your comments

If you have comments on the food service review send them to Nancy Brooks, associate director of purchasing, 294-8757,, the Vice President for Student Affairs, 294-1909, or the Vice President for Business or Finance, 294-6162.