Starting this fall semester, UFV’s new food services provider will engage students through their culinary diction. Dana Hospitalities, replacing Sodexo as the provider, has joined the university in order to provide healthy and affordable food options to students and staff on campus.
Food Services is responsible for providing meals and snacks in the Abbotsford and Chilliwack cafeterias, the Roadrunner Café, and catering on campus. Considering the breadth of Food Services’ influence and the importance of food, choosing the right provider was considered to be a significant decision for Ancillary Services.
Cameron Roy, director of ancillary services, was responsible for overseeing the contract arrangement and procurement process.
“It’s really important to have good food on campus, obviously for student life, to support the student experience,” said Roy. “You’ve got to be able to come in when you come to campus, and have access to good, healthy, quality food, with good quality customer service as well.”
Dana Hospitalities is a solely Canadian company with interests in partnering with local suppliers and using seasonal produce to bring fresh food to campus and business to the local community. They also value sustainability — all of the utensils, coffee cups, plates, and bowls that they provide are made from corn and are fully compostable.
In addition to fresh, local, and from scratch, Dana Hospitalities has agreed to a generous price list for food. The idea is to not have the provider price themselves out of the market.
“In this new contract, we really made the vendor aware that students object to high-priced food, they’re looking for value on campus,” said Roy.
“Dana really understood the student experience and they spoke to it at length in their proposal and presentation to us, and that was pretty compelling,” said Roy, emphasizing that out of the many food service companies with proposals, none stood out like Dana Hospitalities.
With the new provider, some notable changes will be made to the food experiences on campus, particularly the change in food provider exclusivity. Previously, Sodexo had mandated that any food served on campus must be provided by Sodexo. Despite the inconvenience, this was in part to ensure that all food entering UFV is safe and adheres to food safe policies. While those food safe conditions still exist, they no longer do through exclusivity. Instead, Ancillary Services hopes to rely on an “exclusivity by default” in which the food provided is regarded highly enough to be used by all events.
Beyond the policy changes, some two or three new brands will be seen within food services. While not all of the new brands have been confirmed yet, both Starbucks Coffee and Tim Hortons will be staying. Additionally, a new coffee brand, Spirit Bear Coffee, the aboriginally-owned, Vancouver-based coffee will be served at the Road Runner Café in Abbotsford A building and the previously Starbucks kiosk in Chilliwack.
Ancillary Services, and UFV as a whole, are hopeful that the changes being brought to UFV will benefit everyone on campus, especially students.
“Any of the value that Dana brings back goes into programming and adds to the university’s budget … that money does go back into the institution,” said Roy, speaking about revenue.
With that said, a large part of the value, as seen by Cameron Roy, is in the quality of the food itself.
Now that Dana Hospitalities has been responsible for food services for just over a month, they’ve had a few opportunities to cater to staff events, from which the experiences have been positive. As the fall semester begins Dana Hospitalities will have the opportunity to prove themselves to their customers.
“Now the pressure is on them. It’s easy enough to say, ‘You know what, we said all the right things, we have all the infrastructure in place to deliver,’ now the onus is on them to meet all those challenges,” added Roy.
The role of Ancillary Services is to provide quality and desirable services and products to students and staff. Their goals are to improve and transform the campus atmosphere into an always desirable place to be.
“We want to encourage students to stay on campus, and what better way than to have good food?” said Roy. The opportunity to have influence over the institution and enhance student experience through clean, healthy food will be substantial, particularly if Dana Hospitalities meets the level of expectation they’ve set for themselves.