FHSU to retain Union Catering Company as food service provider


Tiger Media Network

With a pending contract in place and a verbal agreement to a five-year contract, Fort Hays State Dining Services intends to continue to feature the Union Catering Company, UCC. 

Vice President of Student Affairs, Joey Linn and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, David Bollig told Tiger Media Network that the steps for this decision have been in the works for some time.

Beginning in the fall of 2023, FHSU began the necessary steps before putting out a request for proposal, or an RFP, of potential new dining services. Students, faculty, and staff might recall receiving a survey in the fall to fill out about their experience dining at FHSU. 

Following this survey, more feedback was received in the form of focus groups. The focus groups consisted of students, staff, faculty and even the campus community members. 

Once all the feedback had been received, the RFP process began to put out a nationwide call that Fort Hays was accepting dining proposals. During the pre-bid process, five companies were invited and came out to tour the facilities on campus

Once bids were accepted, only three out of the five companies submitted bids. Two companies were then invited to campus. The Union Catering Company and Aladdin, who gave official presentations. 

The two companies presented to a committee of 10 people. It consisted of student representatives, faculty representatives, and staff representatives. Another presentation was given to Wesley Wintch, the vice president of administration and finance, Joey Linn, vice president of student affairs, David Bollig, assistant vice president of student affairs, and Kathy Herrman, purchasing director, to gather further understanding of the financing each company was proposing.

“Cost is important,” Linn said. “This means quality food and customer service.”

Upon final consideration, The Union Catering Company was extended a verbal agreement on Monday, February 12, and a current five-year contract is pending to make sure all legal negotiations take place before the final signature. 

Linn attests to the thorough process that was undertaken over the past couple of months by Fort Hays State University. 

“This is a big deal, and we want our students to be happy with the food,” Linn said. 

With the verbal agreement in place, consumers can expect the UCC to provide items in the cafeteria, retail, and the union. Along with a guaranteed retention of Starbucks to keep serving in the Union. 

UCC operators Phil Kuhn and Wes Rathbun said they are looking forward to the next five years.

“We are excited. It’s really cool what Fort Hays started and we are able to be a part of it,” they said. “This is unprecedented in what is happening. It’s exciting we are both from here and we own successful food operations in Hays and we want to see this succeed as much as Fort Hays does.”

One way the UCC is preparing for the next five years is by being open to feedback. QR codes are available in the union and around the dining areas. The UCC encourages students and staff to scan these codes and give constructive and honest feedback, which they can implement in the coming years. 

Overall, the contract with the UCC focuses on catering to the needs and wants of the school. 

“Over the next 5 years you can expect us trying to listen to what the students are wanting, understanding Fort Hays as their own entity for what they want and what makes sense to bring in,” UCC said.