This article is a breaking news piece and is being updated as more information becomes available. Last updated: 4/18/16 8:21 p.m.
By Amanda Maile, Erin Shanahan and Theresa Schliep
After a near five month bidding process, Fordham announced on Monday the Aramark Corporation, commonly known as Aramark, will become the university’s new food service provider.
The ten-year multi-million dollar contract will begin on July 1, 2016 and will replace the current agreement in place with Sodexo.
A community-wide email from Jeffrey Grey, senior vice president for student affairs, stated:
“Aramark received high marks for its proposed program elements, site visits by committee members to Aramark dining locations, fair treatment of employees and commitment to work with unions, sustainability practices, financial stability and a solid transition plan. Aramark also received very good recommendations from universities the firm currently serves.”
Karen Culter, vice president of corporate communications at Aramark, provided the following comment to The Fordham Ram.
“We are very appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the process and honored to be selected to partner with such a prestigious university like Fordham. We are excited and look forward to serving the entire campus community.”
According to Aramark’s 2016 Fact Sheet, the company provides food services on over 1,500 colleges, universities and K-12 school districts. The company operates in 21 countries, but is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA.
In a 2014 food management top 50 list, Aramark was ranked second, while Sodexo was ranked third.
Fordham issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the food service contract in Dec. of 2015 shortly after announcing Sodexo’s contract termination.
Some of the bidders that submitted proposals included Sodexo, Compass Group, Aramark Corporation and CulinArt Group.
Some students felt the communication between the university and the student body was insufficient during the RFP process.
“I didn’t hear anything about [the RFP],” said Lizzie Purnell, GSB ‘19. “I feel like we should have been able to have some kind of say in the matter.”
“We were the ones complaining about it in the first place,” said Amanda Belanger, FCRH ‘19. “We’re the ones who have to eat it.”
In recent weeks and months, Fordham students have expressed concern for Sodexo’s current employees. A petition, originating from the student group Fordham Students United (FSU), circulated online this past February.
The petition demanded that Fordham’s new food provider “employs all the current workers and maintains their current wages and seniority, preserves the workers’ retirement and medical benefits and labor contract in full and commits to maintaining a fair working relationship with Teamsters Local 810.”
Sandy Pope, a union representative from Teamsters Local 810 that represents Fordham’s food service workers also visited Fordham this past February to speak with the community.
“They’re nervous,” Pope said in February of this year. “I try to assure them but rumors abound, like that everyone working longer than five years will be let go.”
Approximately 225 Sodexo union employees on Fordham’s Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses were covered by a collective bargaining agreement with Sodexo until 2020, according to Teamsters 810.
As reported in late February, a new food service provider is not obligated to work with Teamsters 810 or continue to provide any stipulations in its current contract.
Representatives from Teamsters and Sodexo were unreachable immediately following the Aramark announcement.
Students said they hope that the workers, like some at the cafeteria front desk and others at specific stations in the Marketplace, will be able to stay in the Fordham community.
“It’s not their fault that the food is bad,” said Sophie Haas, FCRH ’18. They’re being given a bad product.”
Others see Sodexo workers as a staple to campus life.
“They’re part of our community,” Kate Wolper, FCRH ‘18, said.
According to previous information provided by Vice President of Student Affairs Jeffrey Gray, vendors are encouraged to interview and retain employees of good standing. Both RFPs acknowledge that the vendor is responsible for all employment matters.
Fordham Students United held a teach-in in Flom Auditorium to express solidarity with Sodexo employees in the beginning of March.
When asked for additional comment following the announcement, the University declined, deferring to the official statement sent to the Fordham community.
This story is developing and is being updated as more information becomes available. Please check back for updates.
Cate Carrejo and Drew Casey contributed reporting