Options on the table

Plans in the works to use food to draw people to campus

Dining services

The University will issue a request for proposals next month for residential and retail dining plans in the new Memorial Union and across campus. The goal is to offer food options that attract people to the University, aid in recruitment and entice more students to live on campus. All options will be considered, including forming a public-private partnership with an external vendor. Photo by Jackie Lorentz/UND Today.

How do we create dining options to compliment the Coulee to Columbia initiative and renewal of the campus? Do we have the right mix of dining choices to attract students, faculty and staff? How could more dining options and locations attract more people to campus?

The University created a working group to answer those questions and inform the development of a blueprint for campus dining. The goal is to offer food options that attract people to the University, aid in recruitment and entice more students to live on campus.

The University will issue a request for proposals (RFP) next month for residential and retail dining plans in the new Memorial Union and across campus.

All options will be considered, including forming a public-private partnership with an external vendor.

Attracting students

“One of the goals of the University is to bring people on campus to participate in campus life,” said Jed Shivers, vice president for finance & operations and chief operating officer. “Food services is very important, and it needs to be looked at in a holistic fashion. We’re wondering if we can use meal plans creatively to bring people back to campus to dine and live.”

Cara Halgren

Cara Halgren

“In light of Strategic Planning and Coulee to Columbia conversations, we’ve also talked about dining services on campus,” said Cara Halgren, vice president for student affairs & diversity. “We’re looking at what we might want to see in the future to meet the needs of the campus now and as it evolves.”

Halgren and Shivers are co-chairing the group, which is comprised of staff and students as well as affiliated food service providers from across campus and outside the University. Student Body President Erik Hanson and Association of Residence Halls President Kaelan Reedy are part of the committee.

“We know that people are interested in having dining options in new ways,” said Halgren. “Both the committee and the development of the RFP are helping us think strategically.”

“The RFP seeks to explore the use of a meal plan to bring the campus together,” said Shivers. “We are looking for a provider who can accomplish that goal in a way that creates a positive cash flow.”

Dining Services

UND Vice Presidents Cara Halgren and Jed Shivers are co-chairing a group, comprising staff and students as well as affiliated food service providers from across campus and outside the University, to brainstorm new dining options for campus. Student Body President Erik Hanson and Association of Residence Halls President Kaelan Reedy are part of the committee. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

New way of thinking

Shivers said that UND Dining Services is expected to submit a proposal to showcase the options they can provide.

Jed Shivers

“We are extremely interested in hearing from UND Dining Services. They will participate in the process the same as external vendors. We don’t know if going external is better or cheaper,” Shivers said. He added that some members of the committee have said that it’s often better financially to keep food services in-house.

“We don’t have preconceived notions,” Shivers said. “We want to create a more urban campus and use food as a way to enable people to enjoy campus life.”

Shivers said that he and his wife often have meals at Wilkerson Commons, even though they enjoy cooking.

“These days there are a lot of people who don’t cook,” Shivers said, adding that he would like to see healthy alternatives across campus.

“One thing we do know: UND Dining Services does a great job,” said Halgren. “This RFP will address development of an all-campus dining plan.”

“We want to use food to bring people back to campus,” said Shivers. “We want to increase recruitment, increase affinity, and create a buzz about food.”