Students satisfied with Chartwells catering despite lack of options

By Allison Mudge

Somewhere in the list of fees tacked onto Northeastern tuition each year, there’s a $100 charge called the Student Activities Fee (SAF). Whenever students attend a Northeastern-catered event, that seemingly “free” food is paid for by the fee.

The Budget Review Committee (BRC) has specific guidelines for funding food. In order to use student activities funds, food must be the focus of the event, not an added bonus. However, the BRC will grant funds for food-centered events. These events are usually catered by Chartwells, the company that also provides the food for the dining halls and Outtakes.

Chartwells is used because Northeastern has a contract with the company, and the school can easily follow up with them about any concerns on behalf of the university community , said Maureen Timmons, director of dining services, in an e-mail. She said this follow-up is not as easy when an off-campus vendor is used.

Any off-site caterers must also provide a certificate of insurance when covering a university event, a policy instituted through the office of risk management, Timmons said. With Chartwells, this information is already on file.

Chartwells ends up catering most events because it is usually the most convenient option, said Billy Haddad, Student Government Association (SGA) vice president for financial affairs.

“The rule is, and the rule the BRC was going with last semester, is that if you have an event with more than 50 people you must offer the event to be catered by Chartwells first,” Haddad said. “They can either accept or decline.”

Haddad said Chartwells might turn down some events, like a cultural food tasting, because the company may not have the means to cater such a specific event.

Although Chartwells’ monopoly on Northeastern catering leads to a lack of competition, Haddad said students generally consider Chartwells prices fair, and he has received very few complaints.

“Sometimes they are a little upset they have to go to Chartwells,” Haddad said, adding that although students complain about the lack of options, they have not complained about Chartwells’ service.

The pricing for Chartwells gets reviewed once each year. The office of the business manager requires Chartwells to conduct a survey of all pricing, including catering, compared to other universities in the area, Timmons said.

“We review this and make adjustments to be sure their pricing is fair,” she said.

Timmons also said she had not received any complaints from students regarding prices. “We have created a Student Food User’s committee which meets once a month

Leave a Reply