Town hall reveals new info about Chartwells changes


Samuel Damon

SGA president Danny Nguyen moderated Tuesday’s RFP committee panel.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, six members of the Request for Proposal (RFP) committee which selected Trinity’s new dining contract, served as panelists at a town hall meeting in the Fiesta Room. The meeting was held to address questions and concerns from the campus community regarding the switch to Chartwells. Roughly 15 Trinity community members were in attendance.

The panel was composed of several individuals who aided in facilitating this transition. Present on the panel was Ani Siva, sophomore biochemistry and molecular biology double major, Demi Brown, associate vice president of student life and dean of students and Bruce Bravo, senior director of conferences and special programs. Additionally, Diana Heeren, associate vice president for finance, and Andrew Hansen, associate professor of human communication and theatre, were also in attendance.

The panelists and Michelle Bartonico, senior strategist and project manager, had met with Chartwells representatives before the town hall. As such, they were able to share new information about potential concepts — an industry term that refers to the theme, menu and service style — that may be implemented on campus.

The first proposed concept is Sous Vide, a virtual dining hall in which students will be able to order food through an app, a QR code or self-serve kiosks. Sous Vide will implement a line style to deliver custom orders from twelve different cuisines, from barbecue to Indian, using less than 100 ingredients. To ensure freshness and speed, workers will use pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables and pre-cooked vacuum-sealed proteins which will be prepared sous vide.

According to Heeren, Sous Vide will be housed where Revolve currently is. As Revolve is an Aramark concept, it will no longer exist on campus. However, Chartwells plans to implement a similar concept in which they will bring local vendors to the space currently occupied by Freshii. Brown confirmed that Starbucks and Einstein’s will remain on campus.

Brown also explained that Mabee will be redesigned over the summer to introduce new concepts like La Mesa, which will serve street food, and Delicious Without, which will serve allergen-free and plant-based selections.

Another big change that Chartwells brings is the presence of an on-campus registered dietician, according to Bartonico.

“All of the menus in general by Chartwells are looked at by a registered dietician. … Aramark did have a dietician, but I believe they were a regional person. They weren’t on campus. … I think this speaks to their wanting to brand themselves as part of the Trinity community. They aren’t just giving us a regional rep, they are providing someone with an office on campus,” Bartonico said.

Aside from the ethical controversy surrounding Aramark, one of the most prevalent student criticisms was the inadequate menu for plant-based and allergen-free foods. First-year Ashleigh Reese, who attended the town hall, stated that it seems like Chartwells will prioritize meeting the dietary needs of the students in a way the previous dining provider did not.

“[Having a dietician on campus] would just be a great service that any student could utilize to improve health and wellness. That’s something I haven’t seen from Aramark — the genuine wanting to improve student experience,” Reese said. “In terms of options, Chartwells has also said that there will be permanent plant-based [and] allergy-friendly selections offered not only at the renovated dining hall, but also in Coates. In terms of it being accessible across all [of] campus, which the vegan [and] vegetarian community would really benefit from it.”

Of course, all the plans discussed in the town hall are still tentative and are subject to change depending on student feedback. According to Siva, plans will be adjusted based on data gathered from the student body through tabling and email surveys that will be distributed by SGA, and any aspects of the dining service that do not work for Trinity’s campus will be able to be changed with a quick turnaround.

Chartwells will offer a number of feedback options for students, including a text-to-chat feature that will allow students to inform dining staff of issues in real time. Other avenues for feedback include a student food service advisory council that will meet on a monthly basis, the chef and management staff rounding during peak dining hours to speak with students face-to-face, a general survey at the end of the fall semester and the Chartwells website. A sixth unconventional form of feedback will exist in the form of a media station — complete with a tripod — in the renovated dining hall that will allow students to share their meals on social media.

In the upcoming weeks as the plans become solidified the members of the RFP will have the opportunity to incorporate feedback they received from the town hall attendees. This will include the possibility of student internships with Chartwells and sustainability initiatives, such as plans to reduce single-use plastic cutlery and utilizing the Mabee garden as a source of ingredients.

Students interested in giving input as to what they think Trinity dining should look like in the fall should keep an eye out throughout the week before spring break. RFP will be tabling to gather student body opinions.