Cal State Stanislaus switching food service

TURLOCK -- There will be someone new in the kitchen at California State University, Stanislaus, this summer.

After 40 years with the same food company, the campus is finalizing a contract with Charlotte, N.C.-based Chartwells to serve new dishes to students, staff and visitors beginning June 29.

A university committee unanimously recommended Chartwells as the best of three companies vying for the 10-year contract. Susana Gajic-Bruyea, vice president for university advancement and a member of the food committee, said Chartwells had low prices and the best food.

"We all absolutely loved their hamburger," said Gajic-Bruyea, noting students would approve of the large portions.

The company will renovate the main dining hall and Mom's coffee shop on campus over the summer, university spokeswoman Kristin Olsen said.

Although the menu and prices have not been announced, the Chartwells Web site lauds its comprehensive vegan and vegetarian offerings and homey meals such as a "Sunday roast with all the trimmings."

Students eating lunch Thursday afternoon in the main campus dining hall said they were looking forward to the change.

"We eat here every day, and we get tired of it," said freshman Sonia Ochoa, who noshed on taco salad, washed down with a bottle of Squirt.

Freshman April Mears, putting together a pair of beef tacos, said she was hoping for better Mexican fare.

"I'm excited to see what they'll bring," Mears said.

Sodexho Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., has long provided food services for the roughly 2,500 diners on campus and was one of the three companies vying for the new contract.

Its contract with the university expires June 30.

No university employees will lose their jobs as a result of the change, and Chartwells will interview Sodexho employees for possible jobs, Olsen said.

The contract with Chartwells will include requirements for best practices to secure credit and bank card information. University officials said an unsecure computer server owned by Sodexho led to thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent charges in late 2007 and early 2008.

Sodexho officials denied that claim, but the university added the requirements to Sodexho's current contract before it would allow the food service company to process bank and credit card charges, Olsen said.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at or 578-2337.