Eating is a timeless cornerstone of social interaction, and here at Georgetown we are proud of our history and continued progress and development as a true living and learning community. By recognizing the power of food in community building and in our continued quest to improve our on-campus living and learning community, Auxiliary Business Services is excited to evaluate dining at Georgetown and to align the Georgetown Dining program with larger Campus Planning efforts. As part of our evaluation, Auxiliary Business Services crafted a Request for Proposal (RFP) that was released for bid towards the end of Spring 2016. Auxiliary Business Services has partnered with Envision Strategies, a well-respected food service consulting firm, to gauge student priorities for the next dining contract, to gather data about dining from the entire campus community, and to assist us with the RFP process from start to finish.
What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
A Request for Proposal is a solicitation, made through a bidding process, by an agency or company (in this case, Georgetown) interested in procurement of a commodity, service, or valuable asset (in this case, dining services), to potential suppliers to submit business proposals. The Request for Proposal document itself will provide potential dining service providers with the terms and scope of work the University is interested in and will provide a foundation for the 2 parties to work off of moving forward, once a vendor is selected.
How long does this take?
Auxiliary Business Services started working with Envision Strategies in August of 2015 to assess and capture the Georgetown Dining program as it stood at the time. After that point, Auxiliary Services started the engagement process with the campus community, in preparation of a final decision to be made in the Fall of 2016. After that decision was made and vendors were notified, work shifted towards the new dining contract and construction, which was completed by the Fall 2017 semester.
What was done?
In the Fall of 2015, Auxiliary Services held over 20 focus groups with undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff. Using information gathered from those focus groups, Auxiliary Services developed and released a University-wide survey and continued to meet with student groups to grasp a firm understanding of Georgetown Dining and how it stood at that point in time. In the Spring of 2016, Auxiliary Services convened a Dining RFP Committee, comprised of University senior leadership, faculty, staff, representatives from the Jesuit Community, GUSA, and graduate students. After Auxiliary Services held a Dining Town Hall for undergraduates with GUSA leadership, the Dining Committee worked to help shape the finalized version of the RFP through RFP Development Working Sessions.
Once the Dining RFP was released to the vendors, site visits were arranged to peer Universities that have their food services managed by vendors expected to bid, including the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Drexel University, Towson, and George Mason University. By the end of the Spring 2016 semester, the Dining Proposal Presentations & Showcases took place to the entire Dining Committee, and after finance meetings with senior University leadership, the decision was made to continue in the process with 2 of the original vendors, Aramark and Sodexo. In the Fall 2016 semester, both Aramark and Sodexo hosted Dining Open Houses on-campus, where the entire campus community was invited to attend and learn more about each vendor and their respective vision for the future of dining at Georgetown. Over the two open houses, over 800 people attended and many completed a feedback form on their experience interacting with each of the vendors. After the open houses, Auxiliary Services and student leaders together visited campuses that have either Aramark or Sodexo, to see the operations executed and meet with students and administration from each of those schools.
How did the campus community get involved?
Throughout the process we have engaged a variety of campus stakeholders, including undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, faculty and staff. With a dining RFP working group of 25 people, including GUSA representatives, we have ensured the consistent input of students in this important process. This is in addition to our regular outreach programming, including biweekly Georgetown Dining Committee meetings, Bulldog Tavern Advisory Committee meetings, and the dining styles survey. If you would like to learn more or would like to reach out to us with any questions or comments, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.