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Released Februrary 18, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- In an effort to explore the best, most efficient food service opportunities for its students, faculty and staff, The University of Southern Mississippi will be entertaining proposals from independent food providers this week on the Hattiesburg campus.

Four companies - Sodexho, Chartwells, Valley and ARAMARK - will be guests at the university from Feb. 18-20. After taking a tour of the food service facilities and attending a mandatory conference from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Commons, Room C, on Wednesday, the companies will be assigned "home bases" on campus. From these bases, the different food service providers will be able to conduct freelance walkabouts.

Each company will also participate in focus-group meetings on Thursday to gather information from students, faculty and staff. These sessions, scheduled to last from 9 a.m.-2:50 p.m. in the Commons, Rooms A and C, will be for the purpose of better understanding the food service needs of the university community - especially the students.

"For the university to have the most effective, efficient and quality food service program possible, we've asked these companies to come to our campus and take a look at what's being done, and see if it can be done any better," said evaluation team member Sid Gonsoulin, associate vice president for student affairs.

"We clearly understand that we have an outstanding program within our own operation at Southern Miss Food Services, as well as an outstanding product. We may discover that the best program is the one we already have, but we won't know that until we see what these companies can bring to the table."

Companies will also conduct freelance walkabouts and informal meetings on Friday from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

"These companies are coming here to learn as much as possible about the university and current food services program and its practices from university (food services) employees as well as students, faculty and (other) staff. They intend to meet with these groups to understand their needs relative to dining services," Gonsoulin said.

The university expects to complete the negotiation and evaluation process by the end of May.

For more information, contact Sid Gonsoulin at (601) 266-5767.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM