Aramark, the primary food contractor on campus since 1986, will continue in that capacity for three more years, working closely with the new director of dining and the Campus Dining Committee (CDC) to provide consistent high-quality service across the residential system.
"MIT will promote the educational role of dining and ensure quality, availability and value throughout the program," said Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates. "Improving the residential dining experience will be a core responsibility of the new dining director. A principal goal of the Office of Campus Dining will be to ensure that the dining partnership creates a consistently improving program."
In its proposal, Aramark pledged to create a formal systemwide dining plan that builds on its success in Baker House and the East Campus community meal plans. The process for customer input and evaluation will be expanded to include performance measures and benchmarking criteria.
The search to fill the new position of director of MIT's Office of Campus Dining is in the final stages and an appointment is expected shortly. MIT also will upgrade the declining balance card system soon.
Under the agreement, Aramark will provide dining services in public areas and residence halls, as well as Institute-wide catering. A letter of intent with the company was signed last week and details of the contract will be finalized in the next three months.
After an arduous study of the issues and alternate strategies, the dining committee recommended that Aramark operate both zones of the new two-tiered system suggested by the Food Service Working Group in the Institute Dining Review Final Report of November 1997. Separate contracts will be negotiated for each zone. The contracts will not cover dining services at new facilities, including the undergraduate and graduate residence halls and the Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences.
Aramark currently operates the Lobdell Food Court, Networks, the Refresher Course, Walker Memorial's Morss Dining Hall, the Bio Cafï¿½, the Dome Cafï¿½, the Faculty Club, Pritchett, the Building 4 coffee shop, MacGregor Convenience, residential dining in Baker and Next Houses and MIT Catering.
The general manager is Beth Emery, a registered dietician. Three executive chefs and another registered dietician support her.
The firm proposed expanding seating in Lobdell, Walker and Networks; offering new menu items at Walker, Pritchett and the Refresher Course; reopening MacGregor dining, and redesigning Next House dining. It also plans to locate new carts in strategic locations, with Lobby 7, the Medical Department and the Albany Street garage as possible sites.
The new director of the Office of Campus Dining and the Campus Dining Committee will oversee the entire system. In addition to the Aramark sites, this includes the 24-hour coffee shop in the Stratton Student Center, Lobby 7, the Muddy Charles and Thirsty Ear Pubs, the vending machines, LaVerde's, Toscanini's and the food trucks behind Building 68, which operate on a space lease.
A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 22).