University announces all-you-can-eat dining vendor for Mount Vernon Campus

Updated: April 3, 2018 at 12:08 a.m.

SAGE Dining Services will serve as the new dining vender on the Mount Vernon Campus beginning June 1, according to a University release Monday.

After GW’s current dining vendor pulled out of its contract at the end of last year, the University launched a search for a new dining provider. SAGE will offer an all-you-can-eat venue at Pelham Commons and a la carte offerings at Ames Hall.

The company will have exclusive rights to provide summer catering services on the Mount Vernon Campus, but there will no longer be an exclusive caterer for the Marvin Center.

Paco Rodriguez, SAGE co-founder and president, said in the release that his company was looking forward to serving food “from scratch with fresh, local ingredients and to building a partnership based on our sustainable business practices.” SAGE, which is headquartered in Lutherville, Md., specializes in food services for schools and universities.

This announcement comes months after Restaurants Associates, the University’s dining vendor that took over in 2016, pulled out of their contract last December. Officials said then that the move was a chance to make changes to the existing dining plan, including turning Pelham Commons into an all-you-can-eat dining venue and hiring two different dining providers.

The official search for a new vendor launched in February. Three students served as representatives on the search committee along with about 12 officials who work in the Division of Operations.

Restaurant Associates had replaced GW’s former dining provider, Sodexo, last August after GW’s 10-year contract with the company expired in 2016. Restaurants Associates has notified the union representing its employees of the contract termination and SAGE will now be responsible for transitioning existing staff at the Mount Vernon Campus, according to the release.

Officials said in the release that they will no longer utilize an exclusive caterer for the Marvin Center. Departments and student organizations hosting events in the Marvin Center will now use a variety of caterers for drop-off service and choose from a list of caterers for full-service catering options.

Details regarding administrative procedures for the new Marvin Center catering system will be published this summer, according to the release.

Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president for operations, said the new dining vendor will give students eating on the Mount Vernon Campus “personalized approach.” She said student groups asked for a change in the catering structure at the Marvin Center and this decision was in response to those concerns.

Last fall, multicultural student leaders said Restaurant Associates failed to collaborate with them to serve authentic foods for their respective cultures.

“This change will give the university an enhanced ability to meet the broad needs of the campus community,” Knight said in the release.

Representatives from the Student Association and the Residence Hall Association said in a joint statement that the move would give students more flexibility in their food providers and that they “actively participated in the review process.”

“Members of the multicultural community will benefit from looser restrictions on caterers and dining providers, allowing them to enhance intercultural understanding by sharing authentic food with the rest of our community,” the student representatives wrote in joint statement.

The Student Association has been pushing for change to the student dining experience in recent years as students have consistently criticized the dining plan on campus. The SA passed a resolution calling for the University to increase the number of dining dollars students had included in their meal plans in February. The same week, the Board of Trustees approved a new dining plan for students based on whether or not they had a kitchen in their residence hall room.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the number of student representatives on the dining search committee. It was three students, not two. We regret this error.

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