At the end of the academic year, Sodexo will terminate its dining services contract with Youngstown State University — leaving the university without a food services and facilities management company.
Greg Yost, a Sodexo spokesperson, said Sodexo’s existing arrangement with YSU is no longer tenable, but that the decision to end its contract with the university was a tough one to make.
“We attempted to work with the administration to find a mutually beneficial way to continue our relationship, but we ultimately couldn’t come to an agreement,” he said.
Matt Novotny, executive director of student services, administers contracts for YSU Dining Services, as well as for most businesses inside Kilcawley Center. He said the YSU account did not prove profitable for Sodexo.
“Sodexo asked to end the contract for financial reasons. They indicated that the YSU account was not meeting their profit expectation,” Novotny said.
YSU has since issued a request for proposals to other food services and facilities management companies. A committee made up of students and staff members will select a new company based on the best proposal. A proposal will not be selected until May or June.
“The food service companies will be surveying students, faculty and staff in the next few weeks to develop a dining plan for YSU,” Novotny said. “Students’ participation in the surveys will give students a voice in what will be on campus fall semester.”
Novotny added that some current dining options will be discontinued because they are Sodexo’s signature brand concepts. However, he said he anticipates that most proposals will include an acquisition of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, simply because of its popularity at YSU.
Wendy’s restaurant has a contract with YSU, not Sodexo, so it will remain unchanged.
In addition, Sodexo’s current employees at YSU will be laid off at the end of the academic year. Novotny said there is no guarantee that the new company will offer them employment.
Michelle Guerrier, a sophomore forensic science major, has been employed by Sodexo for four months. She said it’s sad to see the company go.
“It leaves me with uncertainty as an employee and as a student,” she said. “I don’t know how many hours I will work, or what food options I will have available to me.”
Guerrier added that Sodexo’s leaving affects not just her.
“You are talking about 129 other employees who are out of a job. The effect is huge on our local economy,” Guerrier said. “We are still trying to recover; that’s a blow to our economy.”