Food and Finances

ConU’s Food Services Lost $203K Last Year

Graphic Julia Wolfe

A $203,000 loss under ‘food services’ is the figure that sticks out most blatantly from an auditor’s report on Concordia’s finances that was issued last week, but actual food operations only account for a $51,000 loss, according to university administrators.

The ancillary food service “is not just Chartwells,” said VP Services Roger Côté, referring to the food service provider that has an exclusive contract with the university.

“It includes several categories—conference services, all administration for hospitality services as well as food services. […] The food service is a small component of the figure.”

Stating at the Nov. 17 Board of Governors meeting that the performance of the food services on campus is “rather positive,” Côté admitted at a student press conference Nov. 21 that there is need for improvement. “Should it be like this? Absolutely not,” he said, “but you need to look at it aggregately.”

Signing an exclusivity contract with the university in 2002, Chartwells came to Concordia shortly after the university terminated their agreement with Sodexho-Marriott after 37 students living in residence got food poisoning from a bad batch of chicken fajitas.

Providing food for over 200 schools in North America, Chartwells is a subsidiary of the UK-based Compass Group, the world’s largest supplier of prison meals.

“The [$51,000] liability comes out of the investments we put into that operation, because we also invest in the food services outlets, the space and so on,” explained Côté, stating that the university expects to eventually see a return. “We will do that.”

Côté contributed the financial deficit to both renovations, as well as locations on campus that “aren’t performing well,” citing Loyola as an example of food outlets that are less profitable.

“If we close down those locations that aren’t performing well, our line would be different,” he said, “but we wouldn’t have our constituents served.”

When asked whether or not the private company should have to make up their own losses, Côté explained that “contracts are fairly complex and they adjust according to the provider. It’s not like they’re paying a fixed amount of rent per month. It is linked to performance.”

When pressed for further details on the contract, university spokespeople informed The Link that we were welcome to file an Access to Information Request, but would likely come up short.

“Under access legislation we’re not permitted to release information that could affect the finances of a third party,” said Concordia Chief Financial Officer Patrick Kelley.

The mandatory meal plans for students in residence range from $1,820 to $2,412.

—with files from Madeline Coleman