Board of Trustees approves new dining vendor


Thomas Euclide, associate vice president of Facilities, Planning and Operations, addresses the Board regarding campus food choices for next school year at Rockwell Hall on Thursday, March 2, 2017.

Henry Palattella

The Kent State Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to approve Aramark LLC as its new dining supplier.

The meeting — which was held in the library at Rockwell Hall — opened with statements from Kent State President Beverly Warren. She thanked the trustee members for coming before quickly turning the floor over to Vice President of the Division of Student Affairs Shay Little who began the presentation about campus dining.

Little proposed changes such as providing the same meal plan across all eight campuses, as well as changing the prices of food. There are currently five different meal-plan contracts spread across all of the Kent State campuses, with the Kent campus being the largest.

Campus Dining from on Vimeo.

The proposed contract will last eight years with a two-year term of renewal. The contract will take effect on June 1, and will be a one-time investment that will cost approximately $22.7 million.

Little told the board that $2.4 million of that will go back to the university in the first year of the contract to support the “student experience.”

Aramark will also have a Health and Services manager on campus who will be able to answer any questions about food and nutrition.

Little’s first remarks were followed by a presentation by Jeff Bohn, director of business development at Aramark Higher Education.

Bohn started his presentation by mentioning how Aramark already works with the Universities of Toledo, Cincinnati, Akron, Houston and South Florida.

The company also signed deals with Clemson University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Temple University — a university that Bohn highlighted as one of Kent State’s aspirational institutions.

Bohn outlined the changes on-campus dining halls will have with a new vendor: 

The dining hall in Eastway will be renamed as “Eastway Court Fresh Food Company,” while the market will have a new focus on fresh vegetables.

The dining hall in Prentice will be renamed “Nourish’d,” and expand its focus on allergens. The market in Prentice will be renamed “Sprout’d.”

Dining options on the second floor of the Student Center will be changed as well. Kent Market 2 will be changed to “The Esplanade Market Center,” which will serve as an open-kitchen dining area where students and faculty can have food prepared in front in them.

The Student Center Hub will also be changed, with Fresco and Grazers serving as the additions. It wasn’t announced which vendors would be removed. A full-service Panera will be added along the Esplanade, as well as a fully-licensed Starbucks in the University Library.

Rosie’s Diner in Tri-Towers will also move to the second floor and will add a new technology element like table-top ordering.  

The dining hall renovations will also extend across the other campuses, with some regional campuses getting a made-to-order deli called “The Seasoned Café.” A market called “The Seasoned MRKT” will also be placed on some regional campuses.

The dining halls will be run by 30 Aramark employees and 85 Kent State dining employees. Current Kent State dining employees will be able keep their jobs throughout the transition process.

The Kent Campus and the Stark Campus are currently the only campuses that have dining halls employing solely Kent State students.

Bohn’s presentation was followed by a presentation from PepsiCo, which has been Kent State’s drink provider since 2011. The PepsiCo presentation focused on ways the company could expand its brand on campus.

One plan includes “Life Water,” stylized as LIFEWTR. The brand includes purified water that is Ph balanced and comes with electrolytes. The product is sent out in bottles with a design on the front that changes quarterly.

PepsiCo is also planning on bringing in new Spire fountain units, which is a touch-screen drink machine that allows customers to mix and match different drink flavors. PepsiCo will also be engaging in the FLASHperks program, which will then be used to redeem Pepsi or Gatorade gear.

PepsiCo will also continue its focus on athletics by adding new game experiences during the university’s athletics events, as well as renovating the Gatorade experience on campus for students.  

Some ways that PepsiCo plans on doing this is by making experiences unique to college students, such as giveaways, sampling events and health and wellness events.

PepsiCo plans on changing the Kent State Athletic Department by improving its partnership with Gatorade, as well as more promotional activities during athletic events, like having text message promotions shown on the jumbotron.

When Warren went over her vision for Kent State Dining Services, her answer was short and to the point.

“I want Kent State the healthiest (college) campus in America,” she said.

Henry Palattella is an administration reporter, contact him at [email protected].