Canada’s largest university, The University of Toronto (St.George Campus), recently announced that it will be cutting ties with its food service contractor in order to bring the services in-house. To the contrary, Eastern Michigan University is considering privatizing its dining services with an open RFP for food service vendors. While most higher education institutions in North America do outsource their food services, it may not always be the best choice for everyone and is dependent on the unique needs of the institution and its student body.

Reasons for keeping services in-house include the ability to act on feedback from students, and make necessary changes quickly, which may be a lengthier process when the service is outsourced. In many situations where an outsourced contract has been terminated, the main driver appears to be a push by the student body, who have felt they were not getting access to fresh and affordable meals.

With outsourcing, access to resources can be significant as vendors will usually invest in making upgrades to the dining facilities and bring in other offerings which may not be available in-house. Another draw-outsourcing allows the institution to focus on their core mission of educating.

Regardless of the method pursued by the institution, the main thing to keep in mind is student satisfaction where students are happy with the quality, service and access to their campus’ food programs.