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Northwestern issues RFP for new dining service strategy

Northwestern University is set to launch a comprehensive review of its campus-wide food service strategy and will seek proposals from providers to help transform the its food service and dining experience.

According to an official university release, the dining reshuffle aims to create a “university-wide, high-quality food and dining experience.” The food-service review will start with the university’s office of Procurement and Payment Services announcing a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit plans and bids from food-service vendors interested in competing for the contract.

The exhaustive process will include input from a wide range of campus stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, environmental accountability body SustainNU, and others. The RFP process will be dictated by an enterprise-wide food service strategy that prioritizes higher quality food, optimized services, creative meal plans, sustainability and cost effectiveness for both the university and its customers.

Northwestern will also seek a food-service partner that will honor the university’s desire to support greater community relationships, with local sourcing, partnerships and hiring being priorities for the new contract. The new contract will also cover services like campus dining and meal plans, conference center support services, catering and concessions at athletics events, and vending.

Departments and schools involved in outlining the RFP included student affairs, the school of management, athletics and recreation, the school of medicine, the school of law, the school of engineering, and university auxiliary services.

Northwestern’s current set of food service agreements all expire at the same time, giving the university a chance to review and redefine its food service at a global level. The goal for the RFP process, then, is to establish a comprehensive new contract beginning in the fall quarter of 2018.

“This review is not a direct reflection on the past performance of any particular vendor currently providing services to Northwestern,” says Jim Konrad, executive director of Procurement and Payment Services, and lead for the RFP process. “We expect strong proposals from all of the major providers of food service.”

The release goes on to reveal that Northwestern has engaged with a food-service consultant to help advise throughout the RFP process. The RFP is expected to be released in early October 2017, and the university will issue regular updates to its community throughout the process.

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