If you eat in Usdan you’ve probably¬† seen this sign:

It’s funny that Aramark thinks they can appeal to students by framing their food as the hippie, liberal alternative.¬† The sign makes it clear that Aramark exec’s like Director of Dining Operations, Michael Newmark, don’t understand our perspective. If they did, they would have signs and matereials that would market healthy food in a respectful way.

If you look at it from Aramark’s point of view, offering cage-free eggs is a great idea because it is a low cost gimmick that will make students slightly more likely to think that they are socially conscious. After all, they have done close to nothing to improve the dining halls in the past couple years.¬† Of course, making significant investments in dining services at Brandeis more often than they need to in order to keep Brandeis students from complaining about them, would be a waste, because they don’t really care how happy we are, as long as they don’t lose money.

But, you say, that’s not true, they really do care about our concerns because they brought Quiznos and it’s a lot better than everything else in Usdan.

Hm, why would Aramark do such a nice thing for us?

Perhaps because their contract is ending after May 2009.

Oh, okay, so this means that we can get another dining service starting in the fall if we want right?

Not so fast. In order for us to get a new dining services contractor, Brandeis would need to put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to companies that would be interested in making our food. Companies would then write up estimates of how much they would charge to provide us with dining services and Brandeis would be able to choose to hire a new contractor or make another contract with Aramark. Up to this point nobody has heard anything about Brandeis sending out an RFP. Why not? My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that Joseph Neubauer is the CEO of Aramark, and his wife, Jeanette Lerman is on the Board of Trustees of Brandeis.

What a coincidence.

8 comments on “Aramark”

  1. Josh C Says:

    Maybe we can set up an organized effort to demand transparency in the process surrounding the creation of a new dining contract. Some of this could be through the Student Union, but there are other avenues for this. If we get enough voices together, perhaps we could force the University to make some statements on the record and address student concerns, and start from there?

    If there’s not going to be any competition within the market, there might as well be some competition for the market…

  2. Carol Says:

    Slow news day?

    It seems that whenever the liberal campus media wants something to report on it brings up the Jeanette Lerman/Joseph Neubauer connection.

    The fact is that Jeanette recuses herself from any Aramark/dining decision.

    People like to complain incessantly about the food. But why don’t you have any concrete solutions? I think that, on the whole, the food at Brandeis really isn’t that bad. Maybe since there aren’t a lot of casual alternatives because we’re in the suburbs, we complain more, but if you actually eat at other campuses, you’ll find Brandeis food is better than average.

  3. Sahar Says:

    With all due respect, “let’s get Brandeis to issue an RFP” sounds like a concrete solution to me.

  4. shakeman Says:

    Please forgive me if I made the mistake of using a legitimate and fact-based argument that has been used in the past.

    Carol – Just because Jeanette, who you are apparently on a first name basis with, has recused herself from all decisions regarding Aramark as you say (how do you know this?), doesn’t mean that her presence on the board isn’t affecting the University’s dining choice. But, Brandeis is allowed to have anybody they want on the board, even CEO’s wives, and I suppose it is possible that it was just a complete coincidence that Brandeis chose Aramark while she happened to be a Board Member.

    However, in order to avoid impropriety, or the appearance of it, all Brandeis has to do is send out an RFP. So, I think Sahar is right, we need to get Brandeis to issue an RFP.

  5. N. Ross Says:

    Sahar, Tim, just to give you the heads up, there is a team of students which have since Spring `07 been cooperating with multiple activist groups regarding this issue (including SEA and DFA). We’ve been researching and planning for helping student concerns get heard in the context of the new contract next summer. Many students want to see changes in Dining Services, irrelevant of the contractor. Our goal is to give a voice to the student body regarding these issues.

    We are, coincidentally, going public today and tomorrow (Honestly, we had the beginning of October marked on our calendars). We’re beginning by trying to get the word out on activist list serves, so you might want to check your inbox later today or tomorrow. I would love if you would let me or another member of this group guest post today or tomorrow so we can lay out the details of the group.

    And Carol, while I am glad to hear that there are people who consistently enjoy food on this campus, keep in mind that quality of food is only one aspect of dining services. I have heard many concerns that are unrelated to it. I’ll give a few as an example:
    *Allergen information
    *Accountability as to where our food comes from
    *Financial accountability and transparency of the contractor. We’re spending the money; it would be good to know where our money is going.

    Check your inboxes later today and tomorrow, and once again, I think it might be good for a member of the group to guest post here.

    Thanks,
    N. Ross

  6. Lev Says:

    Brandeis and Aramark have a lot of strong ties in addition (because of?) the Lerman thing. Aramark donates quite a bit of money to Brandeis and there is generally a very good relationship.

    It is extremely unlikely that Brandeis would switch food providers. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need for some changes with Aramark policy at Brandeis. Specific details to follow later in the day.

    By the way Carol, although there is no specific way of determining quality of food. I can say that having eaten at BU and UPenn (both use Aramark), the food is significantly better there than it is here. And at UPenn it is significantly cheaper to buy a meal plan.

  7. Max Fischlowitz-Roberts Says:

    Hey folks,

    Jenna Brofsky and I have been working with the dining services committee since the beginning of last year to convince Mr. Newmark and Aramark to make a complete switch to cage-free eggs. They are offering cage-free eggs as an option (as the “hippie/liberal sign” indicates), but we want them to make a complete switch.

    As Americans, we get the vast majority of our eggs from hens who live their entire lives crammed in cages so small they can’t stretch their limbs. Each egg-laying hen only has the space of a sheet of paper in which to move around.

    The egg industry is inherently cruel. As a university founded on the values of social justice, we have a special obligation to reduce cruelty and alleviate suffering. Making a complete switch to cage-free eggs will help hundreds of millions of chickens live better lives.

    For more information about how you can help our cage-free campaign here at Brandeis, feel free to contact me at mfisch@brandeis.edu.

    For more info about eggs and cage-free eggs in general, check out this Humane Society of the United States’ page at

  8. Max Fischlowitz-Roberts Says:

    http://www.hsus.org/farm/camp/nbe/cagefreecampus/

    Please email Mike Newmark (newmark-mike@aramark.com) and thank him for offering cage-free eggs at Brandeis, but urge him to make a complete switch to cage-free eggs.