By Fenix Dietz and Julianna Gee
On January 28, Boise State announced Chartwells Higher Ed as the university’s new food service provider, replacing Aramark effective July 1 on a five-year contract.
Associated Students from Boise State University (ASBSU) and Boise State Restoration Services expressed confidence in their ability to make a relatively smooth transition.
Third-party catering service providers also expressed similar opinions, but were equally positive about Aramark.
The change follows a highly contentious year for Aramark among students, which saw Aramark struggle to employ students within catering services, resulting in official condemnation from ASBSU.
The 2021-22 academic year was an extension of the original five-year contract between Aramark and the university,
Over the past year, Boise State hired consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey to “develop plans for the future of foodservices.”
Nimmons said the consultancy recommended creating a fee-based contract and key performance indicators as a way to guide financial incentives with the next food supplier, which would allow the university to better adapt to changes and meet the needs of the student body. The university found Chartwells Higher Ed to be the best choice.
“[Chartwells] auction response is tied to advancing foodservices through experienced leadership with an emphasis on a close relationship with campus,” Nimmons said.
Nimmons also clarified that this process happened before the staffing issues Aramark and the university experienced last fall semester.
ASBSU President Kenneth Huston recently attended an event at the University of Utah with ASBSU Vice President Sarah Smith to see Chartwells in action. They tried food, spoke to Associated Students at the University of Utah (ASUU), and met with the Aramark-Chartwells transition team for Boise State.
“The fact that [ASUU] barely knew the Chartwells name speaks for what a hassle-free catering service is at their school,” Kenneth said in an email. “The students are happy, the food is good, and we at Boise State can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and that our days of abuse have an expiration date.”
ASBSU was also involved in the contract negotiation process with Chartwells, providing consultation and advice upon request. The organization also works closely with the Food Services Committee.
Despite ASBSU’s warm welcome to Chartwells, the University of Idaho (U of I) has had its own share of issues with the food service provider.
According to student newspaper The Argonaut, Chartwells had its own staffing and food quality issues at the U of I.
When asked about it, Huston and Nimmons said they felt Chartwells responded quickly and effectively, working alongside the U of I to resolve the issue.
Chartwells Higher Ed did not directly respond to The Argonaut’s article.
In response to the new contract with Boise State, Chartwells Vice President of Communications Meredith Rosenberg said in a statement:
“Chartwells is thrilled to be part of the Boise State University community and to create a premier foodservice program that emphasizes quality, made-to-order preparation, menu customization, variety, value , student success and cutting-edge innovations.”
Chartwells has also provided a link to the new website where important updates and jobs will be posted. Current employees can continue in their positions pending a background check, according to the statement.
“With the care and concern of our employees prioritized, we are committed to extending a conditional offer to all existing Associates…Associates will receive compensation equal to or greater than what they are currently receiving,” the statement read.
Aramark declined to comment on the contract change.
Due to official condemnation from ASBSU, Aramark has made changes to partially meet the demands of the Fall 2021 semester. Additionally, Aramark has also received a lot of criticism from students in recent years.
Despite student criticism of Aramark, Tree City owner Roy Atkinson maintained a positive relationship with Aramark in their business dealings. Regarding student complaints, Atkinson said “we haven’t seen any of this” and has maintained a positive relationship with the supplier.
“As a business owner, I value this relationship with [Aramark]. If I ever needed anything they were easy to reach and very responsive. [They’re] a good company to work with,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson also currently views Chartwells positively and does not anticipate any major differences or changes regarding Tree City and other third-party vendors.
“Looks like they’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel when they come in…They kind of want to keep it local,” Atkinson said.