Bon Appétit Selected for Dining Services

April 23, 2012

Dear Cornell Community Members,

Bon Appétit has been selected to operate Cornell’s dining program beginning July 1, 2012. This decision concludes a seven-month long comprehensive process that included proposals and presentations by several companies, student surveys and questionnaires, and visits to six other institutions by a campus team.

Sodexo management and staff members have been notified of this decision. As communicated previously, Cornell required that a new provider offer employment to non-management staff members of Sodexo. Bon Appétit human resources and management representatives are on campus today to meet with Sodexo employees and to assure them of their opportunities.

The College is appreciative of the service Sodexo (previously known as Saga, then Marriott) has provided for nearly five decades. Sodexo will continue to operate our dining and catering programs through June 30, 2012. 

Meal plan options for students and operating hours are not anticipated to change from the current structures for next year. Cost for the 2012-13 board plan, which was announced in February, will also not change. Board rates typically increase $100-200 per year due to labor and food cost increases. In 2013-14, our new program will likely result in a $400-600 board rate increase to support higher labor and food procurement costs necessary for a more preferred dining program.

The Dining Service Provider Advisory Committee learned by visiting other institutions that students at Bon Appétit accounts are more satisfied with their dining experience, use their meal plans to a greater degree, and spend less eating out and on groceries, thus mitigating a higher board rate.  Cornell student response to surveys demonstrated a preference for this approach and the overall program that Bon Appétit proposed. The Dining Service Provider Advisory Committee also cited the following reasons for preferring Bon Appétit over several other companies:

  • their general managers have culinary backgrounds
  • the highest likelihood that the dining program would become a point of pride
  • their practices boost local farm economies while reducing the carbon footprint
  • they regularly incorporate education into the dining experience
  • there is a more solid alignment with Cornell’s mission and values

Bon Appétit is renowned for its methods of cooking from scratch, fresh daily variety, healthy options, and commitment to sustainability. Students served at colleges with Bon Appétit accounts regularly rate their dining experiences as outstanding according to several annual rating publications. Earlier this year, St. Olaf was rated the nation’s best dining program by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Just last week, Washington University was rated the top university for food lovers by The Daily Meal online publication. Cornell’s new general manager, transition team and district manager will come from Washington University’s award-winning program.

A “Meet and Greet Bon Appétit” opportunity will be held this afternoon from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the table area near the east entrance to Scramble. Please stop by if you would like to welcome or have questions for the Bon Appétit representatives. Another “Meet and Greet Bon Appétit” opportunity will be held next block when Amy Zupanci, the incoming General Manager, will be introduced. 

In conclusion, I want to offer special thanks and deep gratitude for the leadership and service provided by the students, staff members and faculty member on the Dining Service Provider Advisory Committee. They dedicated countless hours this year and were deeply engaged in this process. Members include students Kalissa Holdcraft, Claire McGuire, Ben Rosen and Stephanie Ryan; Sue Astley, Professor of Psychology; Karen Mercer, Vice President for Business Affairs; Nancy Reasland, Assistant Director of Student Health Services; and Kara Trebil, Director of Civic Engagement.

In the coming weeks, more details about the exciting Thomas Commons renovation and construction project will become available. As always, feel free to send questions or comments to me via email regarding these matters.

In Community,

John Harp