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Dining dishes out changes

Compass Group USA offers students diverse diet

Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 00:09

Outsource dining photo


Freshman biomedical sciences major Alexandra McMillan goes through the serving line Sunday at Sbisa.

During the summer of 2012, Texas A&M University underwent multiple changes on campus. Construction began on Wellborn and Old Main; Aggies said goodbye to the Big 12 and hello to the Southeastern Conference, and Chancellor John Sharp announced Texas A&M and the University System would outsource its custodial, maintenance and dining services to Compass Group USA.

Freshmen and transfer students may not notice anything different with dining, but for returning students, quality and price of food seem to be

hot topics.

Toward the end of the spring semester there was a division in the student body as to whether or not Texas A&M should outsource custodial, maintenance and dining services after a request for proposals in February 2012. After the announcement was made on June 21 and a contract was signed, Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services — a food service company owned and operated by Compass Group USA — began providing the dining services on campus in early August.

“It is exciting to transition to a large university like TAMU,” said president and CEO of Chartwells, Steve Sweeney. “Over the last three weeks of move in and opening, more than 25 Chartwells team members comprised of chefs, managers and senior managers came from all over the country to support the TAMU team through the transition.”

Compass Group USA operates 15 food service companies including Chartwells, while leading and specializing in food service management and support services. Levy Restaurants, a subsidiary of Compass Group USA, is a market leader known for providing catering to professional sports teams and events such as the GRAMMY Awards, the U.S. Open, the Democratic National Convention, the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby.

Compass Group USA’s cliental includes 90 of Fortune 100 companies and promotes diversity as they have been ranked No. 33 by The Black Collegian Top 100 Employers and has recently moved up in Diversity Employers

Top 100.

The parent company, UK- based Compass Group PLC, dates back to 1941 when it was originally founded as Factory Canteens LTD. The following year, Compass Group relocated and established their headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Compass Group PLC now operates in over 50 countries and serves customers in offices and factories; schools and universities; hospitals and senior living communities; major sports and cultural venues; and remote mining camps and offshore platforms, according to Compass Group’s website.

Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, on the other hand, has a long history of providing a university dining throughout the country and is a little more familiar with the Southeastern Conference.

“We manage the dining services at LSU and the University of Arkansas, both of which Chartwells transitioned to more than 10 years ago from self-operated programs,” Sweeney said. “In addition, we operate the dining services at Auburn University.”

Many students have noticed a minute increase in food costs, and may be concerned, but Chartwells has an explanation to the cost of the food. According to their website, Chartwells has implemented food sourcing policies for purchasing sustainable food products including 100 percent certified seafood, cage-free shell eggs, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken, turkey, pork, grass-fed beef and rBGH free milk.

Along with their food sourcing policies, Chartwells uses minimal amounts of fat by using margarines and spreads with zero grams of trans fat, including zero gram trans-fat oils, limits the use of processed foods, and does not cook foods with preservatives or high levels

of sodium.

Moreover, Chartwells has implemented programs to help protect the environment, reduce waste and decrease the carbon footprint.

Regardless of the fact that a foreign company is managing the dining services at Texas A&M, the voice of the student body is as much of an importance as it was before.

“We have implemented the Dining Services Advisory Committee to ensure concerns of all interested parties including students, faculty and professionals are being recognized by Chartwells,” said vice president of student services Holly Scott.

Scott expressed the willingness of Chartwells to address the concerns the student body might bring forth.

“As we move through this semester, students will be asked to participate in surveys, to attend focus groups and to join the Dining Services Advisory Committee so that we can build the best program for Texas A&M that is customized to the community,” Sweeney said.

Chartwells has already proposed renovations for the Commons and Duncan Dining Hall and has suggested bringing national brands

to campus.

During the transition in August, over 600 Texas A&M associates including managers, full time and part time staff and student workers were offered the same positions, contrary to rumors that arose during the spring semester.

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