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MIT Prepares to Receive and Analyze Dining Contract Bids

By Gitrada Arjara

MIT is about to begin the process of hiring a new dining contractor.

The Institute will begin accepting bids tomorrow to run the dining system beginning July 1, said Philip J. Walsh, director of the Campus Activities Complex and leader of the dining review working group.

The bids will come from ten previously-chosen companies, he said. Aramark, the current contractor, is among those companies.

The bids, outlining companies' proposals and qualifications, will be due by the middle of December.

There is a possibility that two contractors may be chosen to administer different parts of campus.

An implementation team, composed of students, staff, and possibly faculty, will decide who would review the proposals, do company site analyses, and full evaluations on the the ten companies, Walsh.

In a few weeks, a bidders' conference will be held at the Institute to provide information and campus tours for the possible future contractors. This conference is meant to provide information to the different companies in an even and fair way, he said.

"The goal continues to be food service on this campus, regardless of who's providing it," Walsh said.

"We want our food service to provide high quality, be widely available when and where our students and the rest of the community need it, be nutritious and at a reasonable price," he said.

"It has been a very involved process with significant level of community involvement and participation," Walsh said. "The Institute dining review group spent 18 months implementing its plan with community involvement."

Walsh also said that there is interest in re-opening residential dining areas, particularly the one in McCormick Hall. The goal would be to "increase the opportunities to eat together and build community," he said.

A nationwide search for a new director of the Office of Campus Dining is also underway, Walsh said.

Aramark continues projects

Although Aramark's contract will soon end, the Office of Campus Dining is working with the contractor to provide new additions to the available dining options.

One of these initiatives is the Home Cooking to Go program that is currently available at MacGregor Convenience, Walker Memorial and Pritchett. This allows students to buy a variety of microwavable pre-packaged meals that are easy to prepare, said Elizabeth Emery, Aramark dining director.

A Sunday jazz brunch was recently introduced at Lobdell Food Court. Other changes include restaurant-style meals at the recently-renovated Baker House dining hall and new meal options at Next House.

Emery hopes that Aramark will continue "to provide dining for the institute in the future."

The Aramark philosophy continues to be "fresh food prepared by caring professionals committed to providing quality and comfort to the Institute community," Emery said

Aramark is now in its 13th year of operation at the Institute. It's second five-year contract was extended three times while the dining review working group conducted a comprehensive review of dining programs on campus.