Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
February 5, 1999

Food merger proposal goes to Jischke

by Anne Dolan

Vice presidents Warren Madden (business and finance) and Tom Hill (student affairs) have recommended to President Martin Jischke that a combined food service operation be created at Iowa State to provide meals, vending and catering to students, employees and campus visitors. The change, if carried out, would replace separate food services in the Memorial Union and the residence department.

Their recommendation supports a recommendation made last March by a team of consultants hired to review food service on campus. Madden and Hill solicited input to that recommendation last summer and early fall, and forwarded their recommendation to Jischke earlier this month.

The change would not include the athletic department's concessions contract with Marriott for the football stadium or Ogden Allied's concessions contracts in Hilton Coliseum. The existing commitments to vendors in the Memorial Union food court would continue. As proposed, the new food service unit would report to Hill.

Jischke is expected to review the recommendation and make a final decision later this semester. Campus food consumers are invited to send their opinions and ideas to him.

If approved, Madden said he hopes the reorganization could be in place by July 2000. He acknowledged, however, that the size and complexity of the two existing operations, compounded by the debt each carries for recent or upcoming renovations, leaves a big task ahead.

"I view this as a win-win situation," Madden said. "We should have better food and do a better job of providing it at a reasonable cost."

He identified several benefits to a single food provider on campus, including improved variety and quality of offerings; more dining locations, especially on the north side of campus; opportunities for employees and students -- particularly residence hall students on meal plans -- to eat at different campus locations; and an efficient operation.

"Nobody's job is jeopardized; all will continue to be employed," Madden said, noting that the consultants reported "lean" staffing in both existing food operations in their report last spring. "As we reorganize, job responsibilities may change."

In responses this fall to the vice presidents, key players on campus, including the residence and athletic departments, the Memorial Union and the Iowa State Center, generally supported the idea of one campus food service provider. Residence officials also included a proposal to merge the Memorial Union food service into its own to create the one entity. And the center included a request to let Ogden run its own catering service in Scheman, citing the benefits of more efficient staffing, better customer service and more competitive prices.

Madden and Hill's recommen-dation noted that folding one of the existing food operations into the other isn't likely because both rely on food revenues to support other (non- food) programs and must continue to be self-supporting. For example, last year about two-thirds of the Memorial Union's revenue came from food operations. Improving food service on campus and carrying out master plans in both the residence system and the Memorial Union are important components in Iowa State's student recruitment and retention projects, they wrote, so distributing food revenues would be part of creating the new entity.

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