History of Campus Providers

History of Campus Providers

At Universities, foodservice providers are primarily employed to service residence populations. Since the late 1970s, the operation of food services at most universities and public institutions in North America have increasingly come under the control of three large food service companies: Chartwells, Sodexo and Aramark (Bernell, 2008).

Concordia did not have a single contracted food service provider until 2000, when student residence population began to increase. Prior to 2000, the University used communal kitchens, equipped with industrial stoves, fridges and preparation areas combined with a smaller non exclusivity contract with Sodexo Marriott (responsible for cafeteria services) to ensure students had access to food (Melanie Drew, 2013). In 2000, Concordia signed an exclusivity contract with Sodexo-Marriott (now Sodexo) to service residence students. That contract was short lived and the University terminated their agreement with Sodexho-Marriott in 2002 after 37 students living in residence got food poisoning from a bad batch of chicken fajitas in 2001. (The Link, 2011)

The search for a new campus food vendor began in January 2001. Hospitality Concordia billed the search as “the first comprehensive analysis of the overall food contract needs of the university in 25 years.” Concordia’s first food services Request for Proposal was created by Hospitality Concordia outlining the type of company, products and vision preferred by Concordia. A food services committee representing the major stakeholders within the university community (unable to find which groups were represented) was created to review public applications for the contract. Zev Tiefenbach from People’s Potato and Bilal Hamideh from Muslim Student Association proposed a student-run multi-ethnic food court that would be a commercial operation, not a soup kitchen. The operators of The People’s Potato, with other student associations, had also been invited to submit a business plan for the venture. Five vendors responded to the public tender, three of which were invited to present their company profile, products and overall vision for Concordia (Concordia Internal Relations & Communications, 2002).


The resulting recommendation of the food service committee was to choose Chartwells as the provider of food services to Concordia University. In 2002, Chartwells, a subsidiary of Compass Group Canada signed an exclusivity contract with the University, effectively securing their monopoly of contracted food services on campus. The resulting contract has been in effect for 11 years, and is set to expire in 2014.


Adopting Chartwells as the only food service provider on campus renders Concordia University as a contracted food system. This means Concordia has a binding contract with its food service provider (Chartwells), who manages the majority of the components of the campus food system including menu planning, price setting, purchasing, retail outlets, residence meal plans and some of the catering services on both campuses. 


Hospitality Concordia, specifically Commercial Support Services oversees the University Food Provider and its operations, but has little role in daily operations.

For more information please refer to our research report : Guide To Concordia’s Food System: Current Operations and Future Directions.