Chartwells to be replaced at end of year; University officials expect transition to be ‘seamless’


The K-State Student Union announced yesterday that, beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, Sodexo will take over the role of caterer and retail food service provider for the university.

According to a news brief released by the Union, Sodexo, who currently provides catering and concession services for K-State Athletics, will manage food services at all current dining locations, including the Union, Hale Library and the Child Development Center.

Sodexo will take over for Chartwells, who notified university officials of their intent to terminate an 18-month-old contract between the two parties on Oct. 1. 

According to a letter written by Chartwells president and CEO Steven Sweeney to Union director Bill Smriga, Chartwells had “sustained substantial financial losses operating the K-State food service program.”

In the letter, Sweeney stated that his company could not continue to sustain those financial losses and invoked a section of the contract that allowed either party to terminate the agreement by providing 90 days notice.

“What we immediately did is to begin to evaluate our options,” Smriga said in an interview early this month. 

According to Smriga, the university negotiated with Chartwells and invited Sodexo, who had lost the bid for the contract to Chartwells in 2010, to come to campus and make a presentation to shareholders, university officials and student government officials.

Smriga said that key leaders from the Student Governing Association were involved in every step of the decision-making process.

The decision for Sodexo to take over for Chartwells was made quickly to allow the new company to plan for the transition period, which will occur during the winter intermission. University officials stressed that the transition will be seamless and have little impact on students.

“We are absolutely confident that we will continue to provide food service in the Union and catering service to all of our customers, uninterrupted,” Smriga said.

According to the news release, Sodexo will honor all catering contracts and prices, and current pricing at retail restaurants will remain the same until June 30, 2013. Sodexo will also continue loyalty programs such as the refillable mug program and Cat Cash bonus bucks. Chartwells’ hourly employees will retain their jobs, and Sodexo will honor their pay rates and match or improve on their benefits.