Aramark maintains long-term relationship with UNO

Lindsay Maxie, Staff

Aramark’s 10-year contract has been renewed twice by the university, allowing for a 20-year partnership. Many University of New Orleans students have mixed feelings with food supplier, but UNO administration has nothing but good things to say.

For the past 17 years, Aramark has stuck with the university through its good and bad times. “When the second renewal came about, the other companies were reluctant to bid because there was a lot of uncertainty as to where the university was going, and [there were] concerns of how quickly it may or may not grow back after Katrina,” said Director of Auxiliary Services, Patrick Linn.

The university believes Aramark’s interest in renewing their contract after such a catastrophic event demonstrates their dedication to the university. “Aramark could have pulled out after Katrina because we were nowhere meeting our end of the deal, but they didn’t. They even rebid with us because they believe in this [university], even though there have been many years where they have lost money,” said Linn.

One common misconception about Aramark is the belief that students are only allowed to use Aramark for catering services on campus. “Anywhere Aramark is located, students have to use Aramark catering, but if it’s anywhere else on campus, students are free to use who they want,” said Student Involvement and Leadership Assistant Director LeeAnne Sipe.

Aramark makes exceptions to their contract, allowing organizations to have a variety of food options for certain events. “We host Fresh Fest every fall, and we have restaurants there that cater and serve food side-by-side with Aramark,” said Sipe.

As an added bonus, the company is willing to try and create new foods that are in demand for certain events. “Aramark has been really accommodating; when we do cultural events, students can bring recipes to Aramark and they will make food according to the recipe,” said Sipe.

Students looking for a wider range of food services have stated their desire to have a food truck on campus. However, if a food truck request is denied, it is often mistakenly believed that it is because of the university’s contract with Aramark. “There have been requests in the past to have a food truck come out on campus, but that’s a whole set of other issues unrelated to the Aramark contract. That is more of a liability issue in the instance a student gets burned or chips a tooth on something they are eating. Most of these food truck vendors aren’t insured,” said Linn.

One of the main reasons student organizations say they look for other food outlets is because they are dissatisfied with the prices and are unable to afford Aramark catering. However, this complaint has been heard and addressed by Aramark. “One of the complaints we did get from student organizations was that the catering menu was priced too high. However, our new representative, Daniel Mezzanares, retooled a new organization menu with simple items and he has drastically reduced the prices,” said Linn.

If prices still seem high, the university has provided additional resources for students. Sipe said, “The Student Government Association has funding set aside specifically to help student organizations with events; so if an organization receives a price from Aramark that they cannot handle on their own, they can always go through the bill process and get help from the Student Government Association.”