Benajil Rai / Multimedia Director

Selena Legacy

Equinox Writer

After months of planning, Keene State College has changed its management company and staff after 26 years.

Director of Campus Life Jen Ferrell said this semester’s goal is, “Having the dining team, new and old, to have a sense as to where we are now…we have to make some shifts on how we do things.”

Getting closer to that February date, Ferrell wants students to understand it’s a work in progress. They have already started working on changes like continuous service throughout the day, healthier options at Hoot-N-Scoot, a smoothie and salad bar at Lloyds, and more.

“If students know that we are in that building phase and transitional phase, [we want them] to know that we do want feedback: the text line for suggestions, stopping in, and talking to any of the dining team, we are always willing to take thoughts and ideas,” Ferrell said.

“Last year was the end of one of our ten year contacts [with Sodexo] in June 2018, in the spring Keene put out proposals for management of a dining program,” Ferrell said.

Plymouth State was similar, having the same contract cycle with Sodexo. The University System of New Hampshire suggested Keene and Plymouth work together to bid on a dining program together to “save money and create synergy,” according to Ferrell.

“We went through a very lengthy and in-depth process of multiple partners,” Ferrell said.“Chartwells was one of the finalists as far as what the proposal and offer was, and that was the case for both Plymouth and Keene State.”

KSC switched foodservice companies from Sodexo to Chartwells. Ferrell shared what the new crew will be bringing in and why the change happened.

“Chartwells stood out from some of the financial components they were willing to help with like investments, updating Lloyds, and the others things in the next couple years to come… as well as their commitment to sustainability, buying local and cooperation with the new stuff,” Ferrell said.

By mid-February the whole team should all be in place. Ferrell shares that last semester developed challenges with the fast-moving changes.

“Because of the quick transition, we needed temporary help making it through catering events,”Ferrell said.

Chartwells got awarded the contract for dining services in August 2018. The Marketing Manager for Chartwells at Keene State Dining Caitlin Howell shared what she hopes for this semester.

“I am hoping to see our culinary programs continue to grow and expand our offerings more around campus,” Howell said.

Howell shares that Chartwells has been a “wonderful opportunity” for her.

“We are one big family,” Howell said.

For this semester, Howell is excited to share what they have planned.

“Teaching Kitchen—an opportunity for students to step into the ‘kitchen’ with our chefs to learn basic skills, fun recipes and more,” Howell said.

Resident Manager Director Jackie Romito-Carey shared what she hopes for this semester.

“We are adding to our team by hiring new associates and continuing to develop our associates with on-the-job training. We are always looking to hire student workers too,”   Romito-Carey said.

She then shared how the environment will change at Keene State Dining.

“In partnership with KSC, we are focusing our efforts on being more sustainable. By educating our associates and students, we know we can reduce the amount of food waste on campus,” Romito-Cary said.

Team is a big part of Keene’s mission, and this is also true of Chartwells.

“Keene State Dining serves approximately 4,000 meals per day—we couldn’t do this without teamwork. Our team is made up of about 150 diverse associates, and each one brings passion, value and insight to the table,” Romito-Carey said.

“The team making up Keene State Dining is fabulous. We value our guests, take pride in our cuisine, and engage with a smile. We learn, grow and succeed through teamwork. Our culinary platforms are developed to offer convenience and interactive experiences that foster community building,” Romito-Carey said. “Interacting with the community on campus and quality control testing all of the delicious food,” Romito-Carey said.

The new management dining team will definitely bring a lot more to the table. Students and staff can expect to start seeing all the new faces on the staff in mid-February.

Selena Legacy can be contacted at

selena.legacy@ksc.keene.edu