The Murray State University Board of Regents Subcommittee on Dining Services approved on Monday moving forward with a contract for outsourcing campus dining.
The University is finalizing a 10.5 year contract with food services company Sodexo. The company will function as an independent contractor and have exclusive rights over retail sales on campus. This means outside food trucks can’t operate on campus and student-run organizations can’t have bake sales, for example. Catered events are excluded aside from any that may occur in Winslow or the Curris Center.
The $35.6 million contract also includes renovations to the university’s dining areas. Executive Director of Auxiliary Services David Looney said one proposed project includes putting a ‘Five and Diner’ inside Winslow. Looney said Sodexo proposed bringing in other potential name-brands such as Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, Steak-and-Shake and Einstein Bros. Bagels. He said the company could also bring a ‘freight cart.’ He described the freight cart as a repurposed shipping container that can be placed in different locations on campus in many different and serve as a location for a Steak-and-Shake or various different types of concepts.
Looney said the mentioned projects were part of the proposal process and not necessarily what Murray State is agreeing to, but are rather conceptual ideas of what Sodexo would like to bring to the university.
University officials said the outsourcing terminates all current dining services employees. Director of Human Resources Joyce Gordon said this break in employment is necessary to meet Kentucky Retirement System guidelines. There are currently 44 filled positions in Dining Services and 250 student positions. Sodexo may hire these employees back when their contract begins on December 15. Student workers will be paid through Sodexo and considered Sodexo employees.
Expectation and accountability meetings will happen between Sodexo and Murray State twice a year. Murray State has the option of terminating the contract but any such transition would be done during a semester break to minimize student impact.
Murray State will still have control over food pricing, trademarks and operations. Meal plans will stay intact and not change in price.
Interim President Bob Jackson said he believes the changes could improve enrollment and retention.