There are always exciting changes to the Keene State College community with each new academic year. This year, KSC transitioned to a new dining service company.
Sodexo Inc. served as the dining service provider for KSC for almost 26 years. Their contract with the school expired last May, opening up applications for other providers. Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services is the new dining service provider for KSC. According to the Director of Campus Life, Jennifer Ferrell, a committee that was made up of two KSC students and a few administrators helped make the decision of who the new provider would be.
“Throughout the summer we [the committee] reviewed proposals, we got to see presentations from the firms, and then we narrowed it down after that. The committee itself narrowed it down from all of the groups that came in, to a smaller group of options,” said Ferrell.
Ferrell also said student opinions were taken into account when making these decisions. Things like sizzlers, localvore lunches and omelettes will remain in the dining commons.
Ferrell said, “We wanted to keep the things that are really important to students, or we had communicated specifically about what they were going to be or going to cost. We kept as much of that the same as possible.”
KSC junior and nutrition major Genie Schowetsky said that she’s happy about the change in the dining hall. “The food seems better and fresher…and it’s good to see that things a lot of people liked stayed. Like I don’t think getting rid of the sizzlers would’ve gone over well with a lot of people.”
Chartwells is also offering more food options that are organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) due to popular concern about food health.
“If you go in the dining commons you may notice that there is more fresh fruits and vegetables. That is definitely a Chartwells signature. We’re not going to have a bunch of canned fruit and vegetables,” said Ferrell.
However, if students find that they are not satisfied with their dining experience, there are new ways to have their voice heard. The dining hall used to have students write their ideas and opinions on napkins that would be pinned by the dish drop-off station. students will be able to text a number, (617) 294-5256, to have their opinions heard. There will be faculty managing the replies to these texts and keeping track of the data, according to Ferrell.
There is also a terminal near the exit of the dining commons which shows buttons with faces going from happy to sad, with options in between, to collect data on students’ general satisfaction with their dining experience.
“It’s not highly scientific, but it’s another way to get some quick feedback, and it’s easy for students to do after their experience,” Ferrell said.
Focus groups will also regularly be meeting throughout the year to discuss what is working with dining on campus and what is not, according to Ferrell.
“This is a work in progress. If there’s something that they’re excited about or concerned about or want to suggest, I want to hear them and the dining team wants to hear them, so I hope they will actually reach out,” Ferrell said.
The contract period for Chartwells is for 10 years.
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at