Hampden-Sydney College Ends Their Contract with ARAMARK Catering

By: Rebecca Mill
As its sister school Sweet Briar finishes their first year with ARAMARK food services, Hampden-Sydney College’s 56th year with the company will be its last. Hampden-Sydney will terminate their contract with ARAMARK at the end of this year and begin using the company Thompson Hospitality for their dining needs.According to Hampden-Sydney’s Vice President of Finance, Glen Culley, “The change in food providers was an institutional and business decision based on feedback from students, parents, and alumni about the food quality.” A recent article in The Hampden-Sydney Tiger, implied that the new contract would not change either the cost or quality of dining.The change to Thompson Hospitality marks a homecoming for the founders—the two graduated from Hamdpen-Sydney in 1992.  Warren and Fred Thompson’s company provides food and dining services for businesses, colleges, and universities in forty-six different states.  The contract with Thompson Hospitality will not only change the food offerings, but also fund renovations of the Tiger Inn.  Coffee shops will also be inserted in the Bortz Library and Graham Hall.  A few new brands, most notably the Austin Grille, will also be added to the selection.The Thompson’s will also be calling for more student influence in the offerings at Pannill Commons.  A student group, the Food Services Committee, will be facilitating focus groups.  According to the controlled, Mike Smith, “We want students more involved, and we hope to get the Food Services Committee to sit down with the Food Service Director on a regular basis to go over menus.”

The only meals that will not be catered by Thompson Hospitality will be those costing under $100 or those that are not served in the Commons or Tiger Inn.

According to The Tiger, “Student opinion on current food and dining services at ARAMARK was mixed.”  Junior John Dille noted that, “[he liked] the food [with ARAMARK], especially breakfast.”  He commented that they served a good variety of choices.  However, sophomore Chase Baldwin said, “the only thing they [did] right all the time [was] cereal, but the people are nice.”

The change to Thompson Hospitality has also drawn varied opinions. Baldwin thinks “the food will be better because [Thompson] is owned by alumni.” He also noted that they will probably want to impress current students and faculty.  However, James Hughes ’14 believes “the food will probably be about the same.  It would be hard to do it differently…”

Others appear optimistic. Freshman Tarun Sharma, who serves on Hampden-Sydney’s senate, added that “[he has] found that people are unanimously happy about the switch.  The past fifty-six years have been a mutually beneficial relationship between the school and [ARAMARK], but it’s time to part ways and the general thoughts are that the food will be significantly better.”

Many Hampden-Sydney students were impressed that their past brothers “fought to bring [Thompson] to the school.”  Trip Mahaney ’15 commented, “[It] says a lot about our alumni’s loyalty to the school, and that they want to bring a positive change to something that is an everyday part of student life.”

The new contract with Thompson Hospitality is expetected to take affect over the summer, beginning on June 30th or July 1st, but a formal date has yet to be announced.

Contact Rebecca Mill at mill15@sbc.edu with any questions or comments.

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