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Sodexo signs 10-year, $173M deal with Florida State

Celebrity chef and Florida State University alumnus Art Smith will serve as campus Culinary Ambassador as part of the agreement.

Florida State University (FSU) has announced a new, 10-year dining services agreement with Sodexo that it says is worth more than $173 million over the life of the contract. Among the terms of the deal are the naming of celebrity chef and FSU alumnus Art Smith as campus Culinary Ambassador.

Sodexo will assume operations this summer, in advance of the start of the fall semester. The university said current meal plans and rates will remain the same with no cost increases and no interruptions in campus food and meal services.

Among the programs Sodexo will be overseeing and implementing are residential, retail, concessions, catering and mobile dining via food trucks and delivery. Other terms include internships and scholarships for students, funding for sustainability initiatives, meal plans for students and in-kind contributions for university events.

The new contract will bring more culinary executive chefs to campus dining locations to, among other things, prepare more nutritious “Better from Scratch” housemade selections using local and regional foods and ingredients, Sodexo says. Sodexo also plans to launch a selection of micro restaurants to serve the campus, with the first, called 1851, to launch this fall.

The agreement also includes athletics concession operations at campus venues like Doak Campbell and Dick Howser stadiums. The FSU Department of Athletics and Seminole Boosters Inc. will work with Sodexo to develop new food offerings and service technology for upcoming seasons, the university announced.

As FSU’s culinary ambassador, Smith will make “healthy comfort cuisine” readily available across campus and will serve as liaison between the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Fresh From Florida program and Sodexo’s Floridian Flavors program.

Smith is the author of best-selling cookbooks such as “Back to the Table,” “Back to the Family” and, most recently, “Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort.” He served for a decade as personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and operates notable restaurants such as Art and Soul in Washington, D.C. and LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto, Calif.

Sodexo’s Education market, including both colleges and K-12 schools, generated around $3.5 billion in fiscal 2016 for Sodexo North America, according to an FM analysis, and accounted for a little more than a third of the unit’s total business. Major higher education accounts include Georgia Tech, the University of South Carolina, Liberty University, Northwestern University and the College of William & Mary.

“I’m very proud of this agreement,” Kyle Clark, FSU’s vice president for finance and administration, said in a statement accompanying the announcement of the deal. “Dining is obviously integral to student success, and by extension, the university’s efforts to reach the Top 25. I expect Florida State to become one of the top dining programs in the country.”

“Sodexo and Florida State University are a strong match,” added Jim Jenkins, CEO for Sodexo Universities East in the same announcement. “We share a vision for the highest levels of service and innovation. This partnership will expand FSU’s reputation as a leader in enrollment, retention and student satisfaction through our quality of life services. Our team is looking forward to getting started.”

The agreement was signed after a comprehensive review process conducted by a committee of students, faculty and staff, which reportedly chose Sodexo unanimously.

Aramark currently has the FSU dining contract.

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