New year will bring new food contractor to union

By Bryan Richardson

The K-State Student Union and Chartwells, K-State’s caterer and retail food service provider, will end their business relationship effective Dec. 31.

Sodexo, which handles K-State Athletics’ catering and concession services, will take over and manage K-State’s dining locations on Jan. 1.

Steven Sweeney, Chartwells president and CEO, sent a notice of termination letter to Bill Smriga, K-State Student Union director, last month stating the company’s intent to terminate the agreement unless negotiations successfully addressed “sustained Chartwells financial losses operating the K-State food service program.”

Chartwells, which entered its agreement with the union in 2010, had been the food service provider for at least a decade, Smriga said. The agreement had called for five years of service followed by the option for five one-year renewals.

“We have had a long and successful relationship with Chartwells,” he said. “In many ways, we’re sorry to see them go, but we’re excited to start our new relationship with Sodexo.”

Smriga said he isn’t concerned that Sodexo’s current relationship with K-State Athletics might overstretch the company. Sodexo lost the bid to become the union’s food service provider to Chartwells in 2010. “It probably actually helps in terms of coordination,” Smriga said.

Sodexo describes itself as “the leading provider of integrated food and facilities management services in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., it claims $8 billion in annual revenue and 125,000 employees in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Smriga said he expects few initial changes in service. Sodexo will offer to continue the employment of Chartwells’ hourly employees and honor all contracts and prices until June 30. He said the union and Sodexo could begin talks about developing a 10-year contract as soon as mid-January.

“After the transition takes place, then we can focus on a plan for what our food service operations should look like after July 1,” Smriga said.

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