Belmont requires Sodexo to cater all events on campus, including student-run organizations, if they are over approximately $140.
“Basically, Sodexo is our exclusive catering provider. We do make exceptions for smaller events,” said Keith Chapman, the director of Auxiliary Services.
As part of Belmont’s non-compete contract with Sodexo, the university is required to enforce its catering policy, which requires any large catering orders to be provided by Sodexo. This is part of an ongoing contract that was renewed in 2013.
“The university entered into the agreement, as do most universities, with Sodexo for a three reasons. One is basically reputation. They know that Sodexo is a reputable company. The second, of course, is financial. Third is liability,” said Chapman.
This keeps the university safe from any lawsuits related to contaminated food and ensures that the food on campus remains as inexpensive as possible. These reasons directly help the university, and many student organizations recognize the benefit.
“For the most part, they comply,” said Chapman.
This compliance can only be tracked if the university sanctions the event. Chapman thinks that organizations likely slide under the rules by never running the event through the university’s protocol.
“It happens,” said Chapman.
The ability to enforce this rule is very difficult if the event is not exceptionally large. This is one of the biggest inconveniences about the policy from an administrative perspective
Because of the nature of Sodexo’s contract, the administration has very little control of the catering clause aside from cancelling the contract altogether. Sodexo is needed for other types of on campus dining, giving Belmont little freedom to adjust the policy if they so desired.
“At this point I don’t know what you could do to change it simply because the university has entered this agreement,” said Chapman
Catering services can provide food from any on-campus establishment. This does not always give the organizations the options they desire, and event services can try to work with the organization if they need food not provided anywhere on campus.
Event services tries to be flexible with notification time to keep the policy usable for organizations. Organizations are required to plan an event at least five days in advance, but the catering service prefers at least 10 days of advance notice before catering an event.
This article was written by Sydney Mathieu.