UDM to choose new food, book vendors

 Students at the University of Detroit Mercy could soon have a new on-campus food service and bookstore after separate 10-year contracts with Sodexo and Barnes and Noble expire at the end of June.


Detroit Mercy officials held a request for proposal meeting for potential bookstore vendors on Monday, following a similar meeting for food vendors in August.  The new contracts are expected to run through 2022 and cover Detroit Mercy’s McNichols, Dental School and Law School campuses.


A spokeswoman for the university said there are four competing vendors for the bookstore contract and six for dining services. The companies will be chosen by November 2016 and will start their contracts on July 1, 2017.


Both Sodexo and Barnes and Noble are fixtures on campus, having served Detroit Mercy students since at least 2007, and the university could again re-sign them. But a number of competing vendors offer similar services, and Detroit Mercy officials say they could make a change based on price and other factors.


Barnes and Noble is the most common bookstore vendor for colleges and universities throughout Michigan, supplying books to Oakland University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Ferris State University, Marygrove College, Baker College, Madonna University, and several others.


There are a few other options, including Follett, which serves Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University and many others.


Detroit Mercy’s current dining services provider, Sodexo, is a French-based national company that provides food to many colleges and universities, such as Madonna University and Northwood University.


Currently, all residential students except for those living in West Quad are required to have a meal plan.  Since West Quad is equipped with a kitchen on the first floor, it is optional for students living there to buy a meal plan.


The cost for a meal plan through Sodexo is about $2,200 for one semester.  Students have the choice of three block meal plans: 255 meals with $150 flex dollars, 190 meals with $300 flex dollars or 120 meals with $500 flex dollars.  Freshmen are only eligible for the 255 meals plan.


Meals are mainly used in the Titan Dining Room, Detroit Mercy’s dining hall.  They can also be used in The Loft, where some grill and simply-to-go combinations can be considered a meal.


Flex dollars are a declining balance that are used at the remaining food venues on campus, such as Subway, Starbucks, and Tommy’s Smoothies and Snacks.


There are a number of competing dining service providers, should the university choose to part ways with Sodexo.


One of the potential companies is Campus Dish by Aramark.   They provide dining services to Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, Wayne State University and Saginaw Valley State University.


Campus Dish provides a wide array of meal plans stretching from unlimited meals to no meals and only flex dollars. 


The unlimited meals per week plan at Saginaw Valley comes with $200 flex and costs $1,825, and students can continue to add flex dollars as needed throughout the semester, according to Saginaw Valley’s website.  Chains at Saginaw Valley include Papa John’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Starbucks.

Saginaw Valley more than doubles Detroit Mercy’s student population, but it is one of the smaller schools that Campus Dish provides for.