Search for dining services provider down to 4, including Sodexo

(Kyle Parks / McDaniel Free Press)

The search for a dining services provider is down to four finalists.

Sodexo — the college’s current provider — along with Parkhurst Dining, AVI Foodsystems, and Aladdin Food Management Services, have been named as potential providers by a student-staff committee.

“The committee is meeting this week,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Tom Phizacklea, “and the goal is to reduce the list.”

It is not public how many companies will be cut, or whom the committee may send through.

“I want the committee to pick only ones they could live with,” said Phizacklea.

A final decision is still expected to be made by Dec. 1.

Potential providers have, among other venues, proposed new uses for the Klitzberg Pavilion space, which has been empty since Vocelli Pizza left campus this year.

“One vendor talked about a 24-hour self-serve convenience store,” Phizacklea said.

Others introduced the idea of a smoothie and juice bar, breakfast sandwiches, and a “confectionery” managed by students.

Costs of renovations to on-campus venues would fall on McDaniel, rather than the provider.

“Vendors will put money up front for any renovations, but we have to pay them back over time,” Phizacklea said. “And that increases our debt.”

Once the committee meets this week to recommend final candidates, Phizacklea and College officials will work out the financials with the candidates available to them.

While there is no specific criteria for the committee to consider, they have been asked to represent all voices at McDaniel.

“I think the committee is looking for creativity,” Phizacklea said, “and a vendor that will honor the traditions of McDaniel.”

“Chicken Tender Thursday,” one of the most popular meals based on students waiting to swipe into the dining hall, is one of those traditions vendors have been made aware of and could consider.

Phizacklea is also looking for providers to give a fresh look to all of the College’s dining operations.

“It has been a long time since we’ve looked at all of our [services],” he said.

Since the committee was first formed, two additional students have joined the previously two student and eight professional staff member group.

“[They] have been very forthcoming with their comments,” Phizacklea said of the student members.

While only four students represent the entire undergraduate population, they have been encouraged to talk with those they know on campus to collect more voices, Phizacklea said.

The College also distributed a survey via email last month to students asking for information on Pub usage and purpose. The results are being reviewed.