Chartwells Higher Education Selected as Campus Food Service Provider
The University of Chicago has named Chartwells Higher Education as the new campus food service provider, effective July 1, 2021. The company will replace Bon Appétit Management Company, which has served as the campus food service provider for the past five years.
Last year UChicago Dining released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to food service companies nationwide. Chartwells was chosen in part because its mission and experience with providing food service for higher education institutions align with UChicago’s mission to build community through food, create unique dining experiences, and procure and serve the best food while supporting the surrounding neighborhoods and the city of Chicago.
“The committee was very impressed with Chartwells and their dedication to crafting customized menus with local ingredients, authentic flavors, and fresh produce,” said Christopher Toote, Executive Director of UChicago Dining. “The company is also committed to using sustainable practices and engaging with the local community, including with minority- and women-owned businesses and enterprises.”
“Chartwells impressed me with their stated commitment to our University Dining experience,” added second-year Felix Gonzalez, a member of the Campus Dining Advisory Board (CDAB). “They appear well-aware of the importance of high-quality, sustainably sourced meals for students. I particularly appreciated their detailed approach to leadership and the retail dining experience here on campus.”
Chartwells was selected after a months-long process that began in fall 2020. A 10-member selection committee, UChicago Dining and Campus and Student Life staff members, students from CDAB, and campus partners assisted with this process, which included vendor site tours, reference checks, interviews with vendors and chef candidates, and advisement from a professional food service consultant company.
“I was very pleased with the variety and competence of the proposals, and the breadth and depth of the selection process,” said Toote. “It incorporated strong data and diverse, thoughtful feedback from our partners across campus, and created a rigorous competition that ultimately helped us identify the best company to partner with UChicago Dining. The dining program will be chef-driven, fresh, sustainably conscious, and student-centered, offering menus that feature the full spectrum of global flavors.”
Chartwells is committed to creating flavorful, nutritious food that is prepared from scratch, using authentic ingredients, and made in a socially responsible manner. The company prioritizes partnerships with the local community through organizations such as the Chicago Food Policy Action Council and Naturally Chicago. To that end, Chartwells has pledged to partner with UChicago Local and the Office of Business Diversity to procure fresh foods that are produced locally and sustainably, with 30 to 40 percent of ingredients purchased from M/WBE businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Chartwells also strives to create an inclusive food culture to offer options for students from all backgrounds. In addition, Chartwells offers resources for students with varied dietary needs, including food allergies, to ensure that their dining experience is marked by safety, variety, and quality.
Chartwells demonstrated an ability to meet the needs and expectations of UChicago students. All students who contributed to the selection process chose Chartwells as their preferred vendor and felt that the company would positively impact the food service program. Chartwells was praised for its variety of retail options, special events and marketing ideas, and use of technology to simplify the campus dining experience and allow for student feedback.
“What impressed me about Chartwells was…their willingness to incorporate feedback into their proposal in order to make it stronger, demonstrating their ability to collaborate and listen in regards to the greater UChicago community,” said first-year Julia Brestovitskiy, a CDAB member.
Chartwells will begin operations July 1, 2021, serving the residential dining commons, academic cafés, and retail markets. For a full list of locations as well as updated information on the hours of operations, please visit our Locations and Hours page. For more information on Chartwells, visit chartwellshighered.com.
Campus Dining Vendor Selection Frequently Asked Questions
How will the new contract affect the staff at the dining commons and cafés?
We do not anticipate any layoffs as a result of the new contract. Staff are encouraged to schedule meetings with Chartwells to discuss their desire to remain in their current positions. Chartwells will present employment offers at the current pay rates while negotiations take place for a new collective bargaining agreement. Chartwells has agreed to maintain the existing relationships with our local subcontractors in the retail operations.
Will kosher, vegan, halal, and gluten-free meals continue to be part of the dining program?
Yes, UChicago Dining will continue to offer a variety of menu options, including kosher, vegan, halal, and gluten-free options. Each dining commons will continue to house stations offering these options to ensure the varied dining needs of our students are addressed.
How will this affect my meal plan or Maroon Dollars?
During the first year of the new contract, all meal plans will remain the same in structure, including the number of meals per plan and their corresponding meal exchanges, guest meals, and Maroon Dollars. UChicago Dining’s meal plan terms and conditions still apply.
In the future, UChicago Dining will evaluate its meal plan structure and determine if changes should be made, based on student feedback and vendor capability and performance.