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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Aramark sees business drop

GW food service provider Aramark has experienced a 30 percent decrease in sales this semester, leading administrators to reevaluate the University’s dining system. With the Colonial Cash system opening up J Street venues to outside competition, Aramark is considering ways to cope with the lack of revenue by limiting hours among other measures.

While students were required to spend all meal points at on-campus venues in past years, GW’s expanded Colonial Cash program enables students to use meal points at off-campus venues.

Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said Aramark officials should not be surprised by the decline in business

“(Colonial Cash) put Aramark in a situation where more complex markets are operating in its sphere of influence,” Chernak said. “(It) didn’t react as well as they could have to the competitive market.”

Amelia Powell, marketing program manager for Aramark, said the company will be “thinking of innovative and creative ways to ensure competition,” but declined to comment on Aramark’s sales.

Chernak said Aramark should “figure out ways to be more cost efficient” if revenue continues to decrease.

He said Aramark could cut back on labor costs by shortening venue hours or increasing food prices but said he did not support increased prices and hoped any change would have a minimal impact on students.

Aramark’s contract with the University concludes in June, and Chernak said GW will take this semester’s business drop into consideration during negotiations.

“Any significant deterioration in service is not going to be viewed with favor,” Chernak said. “It raises serious issues if (Aramark is) not accommodating to students.”

Chernak said officials are considering a transition to a dining system without a single food service provider, such as Aramark. He said a switch would take a few years because of renovations to J Street that would be needed.

“The institution is going much more toward retail venues,” Chernak said. ” (J Street) is great as a socialization center but it doesn’t necessarily require a single provider of food to accommodate that arrangement.”

Kim Davis, district manager for Aramark declined to comment on contract negotiations, but said Aramark was looking forward to continuing its relationship with GW.

“Aramark is proud of its relationship with GW and looks forward to a long and continued partnership together,” he said in an e-mail.

Davis said Aramark is working with student groups “to identify how to provide better services to students.”

Although administrators see benefits in a retail operation, the Student Association Dining Services Commission is against removing a food service provider altogether.

“If we just have independent venues we wouldn’t have as much power as a Student Association to work with them,” said Ryan Geist, director of the DSC. “I don’t think they would really listen to us.”

Geist said GW should work with Aramark to make the service more competitive, but he expected Colonial Cash to influence Aramark business negatively.

“The whole school is tired of all the food at J Street,” he said. “Now we have all these other choices from the same pool of money.”

This year Aramark added Subway and a salad bar to J Street, and replaced the unpopular Fan Fare with a deli.

Powell said Aramark is working with the DSC to better market its services and discussed how the food service provider effectively cut back hours. Davis also said the organization is working with the University to make sure future hours cater to student needs.

“I think it’s unfair for us to ask Aramark to stay open when (it’s) losing money,” Geist said. “It’s not like they have an unlimited amount of money. They’re not the god of dining services.”

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