Florida State University announced today a new, 10-year dining services agreement with Sodexo that will bring an expanded menu of healthy and locally sourced fresh foods prepared by culinary trained chefs to new and renovated dining facilities and restaurants across campus.
Celebrity chef and Florida State University alumnus Art Smith will serve as campus Culinary Ambassador as part of the agreement.
“We’re excited about our new relationship and thrilled to bring Chef Smith, one of our most successful grads, back to Florida State to enhance the overall dining experience for our students and the entire campus community,” said FSU President John Thrasher.
Worth more than $173 million over 10 years, the contract unites multiple dining and food programs, including residential, retail, concessions, catering and even mobile dining via food trucks and delivery. Other terms include internships and scholarships for students, funding for sustainability initiatives, meal plans for students and in-kind contributions for university events. FSU will become one of Sodexo’s marquee accounts.
“I’m very proud of this agreement. Dining is obviously integral to student success, and by extension, the university’s efforts to reach the Top 25,” said Kyle Clark, vice president for Finance and Administration. “I expect Florida State to become one of the top dining programs in the country.”
Sodexo will assume operations this summer, prior to the start of the fall semester. Current meal plans and rates will remain the same with no cost increases to students, faculty or staff and no interruptions in campus food and meal services.
“Sodexo and Florida State University are a strong match. We share a vision for the highest levels of service and innovation,” said Jim Jenkins, CEO Sodexo Universities East. “This partnership will expand FSU’s reputation as a leader in enrollment, retention and student satisfaction through our quality of life services. Our team is looking forward to getting started.”
Sodexo delivers more than 100 services across North America that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life. The Fortune Global 500 company is a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations.
Sodexo currently services a number of universities nationally including Georgia Tech, the University of South Carolina, Liberty University, Northwestern University and the College of William & Mary. Liberty’s main dining facility is currently the No. 1-ranked dining facility in the country, according to BestColleges.com.
The agreement was signed after a comprehensive review process that focused on improving the overall quality of the dining experience at Florida State. A committee of students, faculty and staff, including current Student Body President Nathan Molina, unanimously selected Sodexo with input from a dozen technical advisers and feedback from students and employees across campus.
“Students want more healthy options on campus, especially our students with specific dietary needs, and so that’s an area we put a lot of focus on during our review,” Molina said. “This new partnership will significantly increase the healthy options and alternatives available, and it will generate a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about eating on campus that doesn’t exist today.”
The new contract will retain many of the popular elements of the university’s current dining programs while adding a number of new features to transform the campus dining experience. The company will hold a series of informational town hall meetings in the coming weeks to answer questions and offer a sneak peek at what the future holds at Florida State.
The new contract will bring more culinary executive chefs to campus dining locations. In addition to healthy options, chefs will specialize in nutritious “Better from Scratch” homemade selections using local and regional foods and ingredients.
Campus residents and visitors will also find a wide selection of micro-restaurants that take the culinary experience at FSU to new levels of excellence. Sodexo will help launch the first of Florida State’s new micro-restaurant facilities, “1851,” on Jefferson Street this fall followed by other facilities during the next 10 years.
The agreement also includes athletics concession operations that will enhance the game day fan experience at campus venues including Doak Campbell and Dick Howser stadiums. The FSU Department of Athletics and Seminole Boosters, Inc. will work with Sodexo to develop new food offerings and service technology for upcoming seasons.
The university’s current provider employs nearly 1,000 full- and part-time staff at FSU, including a number of student employees. All current employees will be encouraged to apply for positions with Sodexo, which anticipates hiring the majority of existing employees and expects to hire additional staff, including more culinary trained professionals.
As culinary ambassador of Florida State University, Smith will make “healthy comfort cuisine” readily available across campus and will serve as liaison between the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Fresh from Florida program and Sodexo’s Floridian Flavors program.
Smith has received the culinary profession’s highest awards and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous celebrities. In 1997, Smith became the personal, day-to-day chef to Oprah Winfrey, a position he held for 10 years. Smith is executive chef and co-owner of restaurants in Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando and Washington, D.C.
For more information on the Seminole Dining Services transition, visit http://diningtransition.fsu.edu/.