Catering FAQ | Dining Services | Kent State University

Catering FAQ

Kent State University and Aramark:  A Strategic Partnership

Dear Members of the Kent State University Community,

We are here to help you! These FAQ’s were created to assist you in learning more about the Kent State University and Aramark strategic partnership, including the catering program in University Dining Services. In alignment with the university’s priorities, the two-way partnership is bringing significant upgrades to the dining facilities, emphasizing a larger selection of healthy options, and allowing more flexibility for students to use their meal plans at any Kent State campus.

Kent State and Aramark are working in partnership to implement significant upgrades, renovations and/or new construction on the Kent Campus with the addition of popular offerings like Starbucks, Grazers, and Fresco. The addition of Grazers and Fresco marks the first time that Kent-based businesses will become part of the campus dining options for students.

Kent State and Aramark’s collective vision for the Regional Campuses and the College of Podiatric Medicine includes a Seasoned Market or Seasoned Café.  Additional upgrades include construction and/or renovations at East Liverpool, Regional Academic Center at Twinsburg, Salem, Trumbull, and Tuscarawas campuses.  In addition, Aramark shares our commitment to health and well-being by supporting Kent State of Wellness, a university-wide effort to promote wellness, create a healthy environment and prioritize health and wellness for students and employees at all Kent State campuses.

While this strategic partnership brings many benefits and improvements to our community, we recognize that any change can be challenging. Questions have been raised about procedures, requirements, and overall impact on students, employees, and our use of off-campus dining. Below you will find answers to common questions. As always, please feel free to contact the University Dining Services team. David Cummings, Strategic Partnerships Director, supports the Kent State University – Aramark partnership along with Chuck Berry, Senior Associate Director, and Brenda Richardson, Administrative Assistant.  All can be reached at 330-672-8161.  These staff members are available to meet with departments and student organizations to any answer questions.

FAQ:  University Dining Services and Aramark

Q. Is there a new policy that requires us to use Aramark (University Dining Services) for all on-campus catering and dining services?

A. When there is a university contract with a preferred vendor(s), all purchases of goods and/or services using university funds must be made from those vendors. As the university’s new strategic partner, Aramark (University Dining Services) has the “right of first service” for on-campus catering events. For on-campus catering events, Aramark (University Dining Services) decides on their capacity to fulfill catering requests. If University Dining Services cannot fully meet the expectations of a catering request, the use of an outside vendor may be requested and the “right of first service” waived.  To make a formal waiver request, submit the Food Refreshment Waiver Request Form.  Please refer to Policy 7-12.1 Administrative policy regarding purchasing of goods and/or services, for more information.

The following represent the only standing exceptions to this right of first refusal:

  1. Personal Food Items. Personal food items purchased with personal funds including but not limited to bagged lunches from home, birthday cakes, cookie exchanges, office potlucks, and similar items brought to campus. Personal food items purchased with personal funds for this purpose may not be otherwise reimbursed later with University funds.
  2. Pizza. The purchase of pizza with University funds for an on-campus catering event, whether single or in bulk, of any dollar amount.
  3. Events Equal to or Less Than $200.00. An on-campus catering event costing equal to or less than $200.00 for any event at any time from any vendor, provided that a written estimate is secured prior to the event or the commitment of University funds.

For Events More Than $200.00. A Food Refreshment Waiver Request Form must be completed and approved for all instances where catering is brought onto campus from an alternate provider (Non-Aramark). Responses to all waiver requests will be sent within 7 business days upon receipt. All decisions whether to grant or deny waiver requests are final.

Q. I have heard that I can no longer use off-campus restaurants for business meals. What is the policy on this?

A. You may use off-campus restaurants for business meals. We encourage you to support our Kent-area businesses when the appropriate need arises. Procedures for hosting business meals or hospitality events off-campus and payable or reimbursable by university funds remain unchanged and may be found in Policy 7-02.5 Administrative policy regarding business meals and hospitality expenses payable or reimbursable from university funds. The selection of Aramark as our dining services partner applies to on-campus/university property only. There may be occasions when hosting events off campus supports our institutional mission and priorities; and if those hospitality events meet the provisions of Policy 7-02.5, utilizing university funds for those events is permissible.

Q. All on-campus events must be catered by University Dining Services, correct?

A. As our preferred dining services partner, Aramark (University Dining Services) must be given “first right of service” for on-campus events. It is important to understand that our agreement with Aramark (University Dining Services) offers many financial benefits to the university, and it is in our collective best interest to make every effort to work with our strategic partner. If University Dining Services cannot fully meet the expectations of a catering request, the use of an outside vendor may be requested and the “right of first service” waived.  To make a formal waiver request, submit the Food Refreshment Waiver Request Form.  Please refer to Policy 7-12.1 Administrative policy regarding purchasing of goods and/or services, for more information.

The following represent the only standing exceptions to this right of first refusal:

  1. Personal Food Items. Personal food items purchased with personal funds including but not limited to bagged lunches from home, birthday cakes, cookie exchanges, office potlucks, and similar items brought to campus. Personal food items purchased with personal funds for this purpose may not be otherwise reimbursed later with University funds.
  2. Pizza. The purchase of pizza with University funds for an on-campus catering event, whether single or in bulk, of any dollar amount.
  3. Events Equal to or Less Than $200.00. An on-campus catering event costing equal to or less than $200.00 for any event at any time from any vendor, provided that a written estimate is secured prior to the event or the commitment of University funds.

For Events More Than $200.00. A Food Refreshment Waiver Request Form must be completed and approved for all instances where catering is brought onto campus from an alternate provider (Non-Aramark). Responses to all waiver requests will be sent within 7 business days upon receipt. All decisions whether to grant or deny waiver requests are final.

Q. How do I request catering for my event?

A. You may order online, over the phone, or by meeting in person with the catering team.  Review CaterTrax to explore the menu options and begin creating the menu for your event.  Consider the Simple Takeaways menu options that include items you can pick up for a reduced cost. You can always call the Catering Office at 330-672-3305 to speak with a staff member or email catering@kent.edu.  Staff will meet in person to discuss your event and menu needs and answer your questions.

Q. I can’t find my favorite item(s) from last year. Are those items not available anymore?

A. The menu posted on CaterTrax is a guide and is continually updated. It certainly is not exhaustive of all menu options. Please give one of our catering experts a call at 330-672-3305 or email catering@kent.edu and they will assist you in creating the best event for your group within your budget.

Q. I can’t seem to find what I want within my budget.

A. Our posted menu is a guide. Please call a member of our catering team at 330-672-3305 and we can work with our chefs to create a menu that will work for you within your budget.  Consider the Simple Takeaways menu options that includes items you can pick up for a reduced cost.  This is a new catering option to provide affordable, no frills and convenient options for student organizations and departments.

Q. To whom do I talk with in the catering office?

A. The team consists of Janet Carnahan, Administrative Clerk, and Laura Snyder, Catering Sales Coordinator. They are the main contacts for booking of events and discussing menu options. In addition, Scott Imhoff, Assistant Director – Catering, Larry Barlow, Catering Manager, and Kimberly Blouir, Catering Manager lead the team on executing the events from setup through breakdown. They also assist Janet and Laura as needed and are available to meet with you to review details around your event. Aimee Huard, Catering Director, leads the catering team and guides the team to achieve the highest levels of standards and service.  The team can be reached at 330-672-3305 or catering@kent.edu and are located on the 2nd floor of the Kent Student Center, Kent campus.

Q. I want to book an event at a regional campus. What is the process for this?

A. You can book an event for a regional campus on CaterTrax or contact the catering office at 330-672-3305 or by email. Laura Snyder, Catering Sales Coordinator, is the main point of contact for the regional campuses and she can guide you through the process. Kimberly Blouir is the Catering Manager dedicated to Regional Campuses and assists Laura in creating great events.

Q. How do I get a waiver from using University Dining Services catering?

A. All catering orders on Kent State University campuses that are below a total cost of $200.00 can be fulfilled with any catering vendor, including University Dining Services.  No waiver is required d to use an off-campus catering vendor for an event with a total food cost of $200.00 or less.  Further, all pizza orders (of any dollar amount) for events on Kent State University campuses can be fulfilled with any catering vendor, including University Dining Services.  In summary, no waiver must be submitted for on-campus catered events totaling less than $200.00 or for pizza orders of any dollar amount. We understand the occasional need to use other caterers or restaurants for a variety of reasons. Complete the Food Refreshment Food Waiver Form and send to Chuck Berry for review and final approval for other requests that do not meet these two automatic waivers. Chuck can be reached at 330-672-8161 or cberry@kent.edu

Q. Is price a determining factor in obtaining a waiver?

A. Many factors are considered when reviewing waiver requests.  If you wish to submit a waiver based on price considerations, contact the catering team first at 330-672-3305 so you can discuss your budget and your event needs with a member of the team.  Consider the Simple Takeaways menu options that include items you can pick up for a reduced cost.  This is a new catering option to provide affordable, no frills and convenient options for student organizations and departments.

The following represent the only standing exceptions to this right of first refusal:

  1. Personal Food Items. Personal food items purchased with personal funds including but not limited to bagged lunches from home, birthday cakes, cookie exchanges, office potlucks, and similar items brought to campus. Personal food items purchased with personal funds for this purpose may not be otherwise reimbursed later with University funds.
  2. Pizza. The purchase of pizza with University funds for an on-campus catering event, whether single or in bulk, of any dollar amount.
  3. Events Equal to or Less Than $200.00. An on-campus catering event costing equal to or less than $200.00 for any event at any time from any vendor, provided that a written estimate is secured prior to the event or the commitment of University funds.

For Events More Than $200.00. A Food Refreshment Waiver Request Form must be completed and approved for all instances where catering is brought onto campus from an alternate provider (Non-Aramark). Responses to all waiver requests will be sent within 7 business days upon receipt. All decisions whether to grant or deny waiver requests are final.

Q. Can I take university guests and/or job candidates out to eat off campus using university funds?

A. Yes, you may utilize off-campus dining options. Please refer to Policy 7-02.5 Administrative policy regarding business meals and hospitality expenses payable or reimbursable from university funds for business meals and hospitality events.

Q. May I host an event at a location off campus using university funds?

A. Yes, you may host an event at an off-campus location using university funds. Please refer to Policy 7-02.5 Administrative policy regarding business meals and hospitality expenses payable or reimbursable from university funds for business meals and hospitality events.  

Q. May I host an event at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center? 

A. Yes.  The Kent State University Hotel is owned by the Kent State University Foundation and is the primary preferred area hotel for Kent State. As with any off-campus location, please follow the procedures outlined in Policy 7-02.5 Administrative policy regarding business meals and hospitality expenses payable or reimbursable from university funds for business meals and hospitality events.  To book a function contact Mary Kline, Catering Manager, Kent State University Hotel, 330-968-6921 or mkline@kentstatehotel.com.  For general questions regarding Kent State University and the Kent State University Hotel contact Lawrence Carter, Kent State University Foundation Hotel Asset Manager at 216-798-3245 or lcarte19@kent.edu.

Q. Who are the Kent State University employees overseeing the University Dining Services program?

A. David Cummings, Strategic Partnerships Director, dcummi14@kent.edu, supports the Kent State University – Aramark partnership along with Chuck Berry, Senior Associate Director, cberry@kent.edu, and Brenda Richardson, Administrative Assistant, badkins@kent.edu.  All can be reached at 330-672-8161.  These staff members are available to meet with departments and student organizations to answer any questions.