Frequently Asked Questions on WWU's new dining partner, Chartwells

Why did Western send the dining services contract into the Request For Proposal (RFP) process?

As is customary in the consideration of vendors and service providers for state agencies, Western engaged in the process to find the most qualified and experienced vendors for operating its dining program. Such processes ensure fair consideration of all potential vendors and are in compliance with state laws, rules, and regulations.

Why did Western choose Chartwells?

After a thorough selection process, Chartwells was ultimately chosen for its expertise in the higher education industry, leadership in sustainability and wellness, and mission to engage with and serve students in innovative and meaningful ways. Chartwells was one of the three companies submitting a response to Western’s open bid process, and after a full day of presentations and questions and answers from Western’s advisory committee, Chartwells was recommended as the vendor to contact for its best and final offer proposal.

What is Chartwells food service philosophy?

From Chartwells website:

“At colleges and universities around the country, we are re-inventing the on-campus dining experience. We are challenging the norm and setting new standards by investing in high-tech, food-infused social spaces that bring people together to promote meaningful relationships and interactions. We are food-forward difference makers, bound together by a desire to feed hungry minds and prepare students for success.”

When does Aramark officially stop operations for WWU?

Aug. 31, 2023

When does Chartwells officially start?

Sept. 1, 2023

What will the transition period look like? What about Summer Session?

Aramark will remain and be responsible for all campus dining operations throughout the summer until Aug. 31. The following day, on Sept. 1, Chartwells will begin operations entirely. Chartwells and Western will establish an early “transition team” that will be present on campus starting in June throughout the summer as well as the campus moves towards Sept. 1, 2023. This will not impact our scheduled summer dining operations or food service.

How will this affect current employees under Aramark working for WWU dining?

Information sessions specifically for current Aramark workers interested in transitioning to Chartwells will be established throughout June; Chartwells will reach out to these employees individually with details about the info sessions.

How many jobs will be impacted, and will there be a net gain/loss of these jobs after the transition?

Staffing levels are expected to remain near current levels, if not slightly more. Individual students and employees seeking full or part-time opportunities will ultimately determine levels.

When can we see a menu plan or sample menus from Chartwells for the various dining locations?

We can look forward to seeing new menu and food service plans and further details about the new operations later in the summer, as the work of the transition team progresses. This is most likely to be within the August timeframe.

Will any of the on-campus dining locations such as Panda Express or Freshens change because of the selection of Chartwells?

WWU will get more information on Chartwells' proposals for branded locations as summer progresses, and will release it to the campus community when the information becomes available.

How will the selection of Chartwells impact the cost of food on campus?

Costs for the dining experience on campus are not expected to change. Dining and housing rates were approved by the Board of Trustees during their April 2023 meeting, so there will be no changes to meal plan costs in the upcoming academic year.

How much did Western’s students impact this process and the final selection?

Along with involvement in commenting and evaluating submitted proposals, students played an integral part in interviewing dining service providers on days of presentations. They asked very relevant questions and assessed responses to specific areas regarding sustainability, social justice, food insecurity, and programmatic inclusion of wellness, health, and cultural- or religious-based food options.

Were any students involved in the RFP process?

Yes. WWU Executive Director of Residence Life Leonard Jones and his staff sought feedback in spring 2022 from Western’s campus via a series of focus group sessions with students, staff, and faculty asking what they most wanted to see in terms of a campus dining experience.

The students involved in setting the direction of campus dining were not limited to just those in the focus groups; members of the Residence Hall Association, Associated Students, and the student body at large composed part of the RFP committee involved in recommending the Chartwells selection.

Does Chartwells do any work within prisons?

Unlike others in the food service industry, Compass Group USA, of which Chartwells Higher Education is wholly owned operating division, does not have a correctional foodservice division and consciously exited inmate dining services in 2014 with the divestment of Trinity services. 

While Compass Group USA does not provide dining service operations at any United States correctional facilities, its vending-machine division may provide traditional vending machine products and services at limited locations. 

Chartwells Higher Education has never managed any food service operations within prisons. 


Please note: This is a living document that will be added to as the summer progresses.