Black Hills State University, which is about to embark on a major renovation of the Student Union, will outsource dining services for the university.

President Kay Schallenkamp says the pending Student Union expansion and renovation project, which includes a new dining services area, prompted university officials to reconsider food service operations for the university. While conducting student focus groups to determine the best use of space and optimal services, BHSU officials discovered that students had very specific and changing expectations for dining services.

“As we began to hear from students, a need emerged to consider some changes in our dining services operations,” Schallenkamp said. “Our students’ dining expectations are continually changing. It’s a challenge to meet those expectations.”

A task force was appointed to examine needs and opportunities, and following extensive review of five proposals from outside vendors as well the self-operated dining services at BHSU, the task force recommended outsourcing dining services to A’viands, a national food-service company based in Minnesota. The change becomes effective at the end of this month.

As part of the agreement, employees of dining services will become employees of A’viands. Schallenkamp expressed her appreciation for the dining services staff.

“Commendation is extended to Tim Johnston and his staff for their exemplary service to BHSU over the years,” Schallenkamp says. “We look forward to continuing to work with them as the university embarks on this new course to meet the emerging dining needs of the campus.”

Schallenkamp noted that the national organization brings many benefits for the students as well as the employees, including access to cutting-edge dining services operations, professional development and training opportunities, and the services of an online dietitian. The online dietitian will be available online to provide students with nutrition and food information and will assist students who have special dietary needs, have food allergies, or want guidance about how to eat healthy.

“By outsourcing dining services, a depth and breadth of resources will be available to our staff which will enhance the dining experience for the campus,” Schallenkamp said.

BHSU is the only state university in South Dakota that does not currently outsource food services. Student meal plan contracts, which are negotiated yearly and approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents, will remain in effect and will not change for the upcoming academic year.