What will the campus center have to do to meet rising enrollment and the residence hall’s demand?
The cafeteria as you know it could soon be changing. While the college is still in the process of contracting with a food service for the upcoming school year, another cafeteria-related issue is now up in the air: Expansion.
Central Oregon Community College has tossed around ideas of growing food options for several months, especially with the planning of a new dorm. Now, more serious discussions about changing the downstairs Campus Center layout have begun, according to Alicia Moore, dean of student and enrollment services.
“When the residence hall opens up, part of [the Campus Center] will be an expansion of the food servery area,” Moore said. “We’re just starting those discussions.”
Big changes, small window of time
Right now, the conversation is centered around expanding food options by knocking out several walls.
When the Campus Center building was first designed, the north wall was given a “dummy” wall, according to Moore. The wall has plumbing behind it for gas, water and electricity – everything needed to put in some more stations. If the wall was knocked out, the building might be able to fit about three stations in the pre-existing space. The work might not take up too much time, either, according to Moore.
“Because everything’s already plumbed and ready to go, it’s a relatively small window to remodel,” Moore said.
Another expansion issue being discussed is adding to the space for tables and chairs. COCC currently has space for 100 residence hall students, as well as outside students, faculty, staff and visitors. When the dining hall was built, it was made to accommodate about 400 people. Now that the number of residence hall students will be potentially jumping to around 330 students, more renovations might need to be made. COCC will be looking to configure tables and chairs so new students have seating, but if that doesn’t work, the game room could be the next option, according to Moore.
“We also have the game room, which was designed to be expanded into,” Moore said. “We could shift it somewhere else.”
Future food service
As for the future of the college’s food provider, progress has been made since initial requests for information. Since February, three food service providers – Chartwell, Avian and Sodexo – submitted requests for information, and out of that pool, Sodexo was the only one to submit the subsequent request for proposal.
While Sodexo was alone in submitting an RFP, that does not mean the process is finalized, according to Julie Mosier, the college’s purchasing coordinator.
“This is a solicitation process,” Mosier said. “There is a negotiating team.”
In order for Sodexo to be chosen, the service might still have to prove flexibility in meeting higher demands. In the request for proposal, COCC mentioned possibilities of catering to more students and employees.
“During the past six years, the college experienced unprecedented growth,” the proposal states. “Enrollment more than double in full-time equivalent students.”
While part of the growth was due to an economic downturn, the future food provider will have to be cognizant that their services will probably need to be expanded, according to Mosier.
Now college faculty are working against the clock to determine next year’s food provider. Sodexo’s current contract ends June 22, leaving the college with less than two months to make the final decision before its termination.
But while the campus still has future avenues to sort out, the process of finding next year’s food service – and discussing future growth – has found support, according to Lori Willis, the contract administrator for the process.
“I think there certainly is interest,” Willis said. “It’s an exciting process.”
Junnelle Hogen | The Broadside