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UC Davis opts to self-manage food services

The University of California, Davis has decided to forgo a contract extension with food-service vendor Sodexo and instead implement university management and staff to self-manage its campus food-service operations.

According to an official university release, the changeover will take place during the 2016-17 academic year, but no official transition date has been set. The change would affect residential dining, the student union, university catering and retail dining locations on the UC Davis campus.

Sodexo has held the UC Davis food-service contract for 46 years. The most recent renewal of the long-standing contract was worth an estimated $34 million for one year, and is set to expire on June 30. Representatives from UC Davis and Sodexo will meet in early June to discuss an extension that would run until the changeover takes effect.

The decision to self-manage comes after consultation with campus leadership, and an extensive examination of the proposed transition by UC Davis’ student affairs and student housing departments. One possible silver lining to the transition could come in the form of staffing. While Sodexo provides the management personnel, UC Davis employs the Dining Services staff of 790 — including 570 student workers — and has since 2009. The university’s current director of Hospitality and Dining Services will lead the new management team, and regular meetings with campus partners are planned to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’ve had a good relationship with Sodexo,” says Emily Galindo, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs and executive director of Student Housing. “But we’ve reached the point where we see a great deal of opportunity for our students, other customers and for UC Davis as a whole, in doing it ourselves.”

Following the transition, UC Davis will operate:

  • Resident dining commons, serving 55,000 meals weekly, as well as convenience stores in each campus housing area.
  • Retail dining that includes Carl’s Jr., Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, other outlets inside the student union, and other on-campus food locations.
  • University Catering, which handles an average of 3,400 events annually.

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