S.D. public universities seek a food service contractor — or maybe more than one

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s six public universities might have a single vendor for meals and other food services next summer.

That’s what the state Board of Regents wants. But the regents also want individual offers for each campus.

And they also are willing to look at stand-alone offers for specific campuses, if the universities would benefit overall.

This unusual approach is one of the first products from the Senate Bill 55 efficiencies study that the Legislature ordered last year.

The regents are set to approve their report later this week during their meeting at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City.

The report is due no later than November 15 to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations and the governor.

The single vendor for food services was one of the recommendations from the SB 55 task force. The regents issued a request for proposals September 13.

Businesses that potentially could submit proposals have been touring the campuses. They’ve been to Black Hills State University in Spearfish, Northern State University in Aberdeen and the School of Mines. They’re at South Dakota State University in Brookings today (October 5) and visit Dakota State University in Madison on Wednesday and University of South Dakota in Vermillion on Thursday.

A pre-proposal teleconference is set for October 14. Businesses must participate or their proposals won’t be considered. Proposals are due no later than November 12. The new contracts take effect in June 2022. Each campus will have a contract, regardless of whether it is a single vendor.

The process looks complex.

Each university has its own set of food sites: BHSU 2, DSU 3, Mines 3, NSU 4, USD 12 and SDSU 23. Those include a variety of national franchises, too, and the campuses have a variety of payment plans and other options, such as Hobo Dough at SDSU.

They also have different 3-year averages for students with meal plans: BHSU 1,266; DSU 1,614; Mines 1,932; NSU 1,162; USD 4,359; and SDSU 7,515. And they have a variety of arrangements for catering and concessions at athletic contests and other events.

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