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Cornell to help Ithaca College set up dining operations in-house

By Adam Rombel


Cornell students interact with Cornel Dining staff during a campus nutrition event. (Photo credit: Chris Kitchen/Cornell Chronicle)

ITHACA, N.Y. — Cornell University announced it has entered into an agreement with Ithaca College this summer to help its Ithaca neighbor transition to offering in-house dining operations to its students by the start of the upcoming fall semester.

Ithaca College ended its contract with Sodexo, a global dining-services provider, this spring as it seeks to simplify and improve meal plans, cut costs, and “help address food insecurity on campus,” according to a Cornell online news release.

Cornell, which says it is regularly ranked in the Princeton Review’s top 10 for best campus food in the country, has continuously run its dining operations in-house. The university’s Cornell Dining unit will lead the consulting and training partnership to help Ithaca College provide its 4,000 students with campus meal plans when they show up in late August.

The two schools that both call Ithaca home inked their agreement in late June. The pact offers Ithaca College access to a lot of the same systems, vendors, and 3,500 tested recipes that Cornell uses for its operations and retail outlets, the release stated. Ithaca College also will be consulting with Cornell Dining staff while they set up databases, operating procedures, training materials, and best practices, according to Karen Brown, senior director for marketing and communications at Cornell’s Student and Campus Life unit, which includes Cornell Dining.

Ithaca College said in its own release that it has arranged to license materials that will provide “a foundation for the college to open its dining operations with thousands of established recipes, along with standard operating procedures designed to achieve high food quality, consistency and safety.” Training on food-management protocols will also be provided before the beginning of the fall semester, and will extend into the academic year as needed, the college said.

As part of the agreement, Cornell is charging Ithaca College an undisclosed, “modest fee” to cover resources, consulting time, and staff training in the areas of food quality, consistency, and safety procedures.

Students eat a meal in the Ithaca College Campus Center dining hall. (Photo credit: Mike Grippi/Ithaca College)

“We never imagined [Cornell] would proactively reach out and offer support to share their best practices as a top dining program in higher education,” William Guerrero, VP for finance and administration at Ithaca College, said in the Cornell release. “What we are doing together will provide a road map and serve as an example that higher education institutions can work together on behalf of all students and the community they support.”

Cornell Dining operates 29 on-campus eateries — including “all you care to eat” dining rooms, cafés, coffeehouses, food courts, and convenience stores — and serves more than 23,000 meals a day to Cornell community members.

Ithaca College said it is also exploring potential partnerships with other local and national vendors and suppliers for dining halls and retail operations, to “ensure that the dining program is being responsive to the needs of the campus community.”

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