American University has issued a Request For Proposal for a new food-service provider, along with an estimated timeline for the selection process to come. The example at American offers a great look at the RFP process, as well as how a university can maintain transparency with the campus community throughout its decision making.
According to the university's Auxiliary Services website, American opened the bidding for a new provider earlier this month, and current provider Aramark will be among the proposals considered. The RFP document was drafted by a subcommittee consisting of faculty, staff and students. The university has also posted an interactive selection timeline, along with vendor requirements, on its official auxiliary services page shortly after the RFP was made public.
Per the university resource page, primary needs for a new food service provider at American include excellent quality food, a wide selection of national, regional and locally-owned dining options, and services that cater to a variety of dining restrictions including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal meals.
The university is also requesting that that prospective vendors prioritize customer service, hygiene, freshness and a “welcoming environment,” and specifically the ability to provide hours of operation that match student needs, i.e. late-night service.
According to the timeline, the RFP was issued on April 19, and final proposals are due on May 13. Presentations by a final selection of three bidders will take place the week of May 20, with the beginning of June set as the deadline for a final decision. The university hopes to have a new provider fully in place by the end of July.
The requirements outlined in the RFP document were in part shaped by student responses to surveys conducted by the university's Residence Hall Association and Student Government.
The university designated a Dining Project team that drew from a broad membership of faculty, staff, and students who represent the decision's key stakeholders. A subcommittee of that team, including student representatives, was charged with drafting the RFP and ensuring that stakeholder concerns were prioritized and incorporated into the decision process.