Vendor quells hunger

Pacific Dining Food Co. opens, meets demand for options on campus


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Head chef Jason Rogers prepares automotive services major Ariel Rebollo’s burrito at Brix in the Cafeteria inside of the Student and Administration Building on Aug. 15.

By Marci Suela, Art Director

When hunger strikes, a student’s stomach growls with complaint and can distract one’s mind as the need for sustenance clouds the thoughts of academic priorities.

English major Lauren Garcia recalls facing this situation last semester during her history class. During the lecture, she said she would position her body inward as she was taking notes to suppress the sounds echoing from inside her stomach.

“When the teacher is talking, it’s usually quiet in the room and everyone is paying attention to what he’s saying,” she said. “When my stomach started to growl, I tried hard to make (the sounds) stop by squeezing my stomach (muscles) because I was scared who would hear it.”

Since the opening of the new Cafeteria located within the just opened Student and Administration Building, Garcia relishes the variety of options prepared by food vendor Pacific Dining Food Service Management.

“Back then (last spring), it was frustrating because you could only go to the Bookstore or Subway,” she said. “Now, there are tacos, burgers, even fish and chips. I think it’s great to have all these options now that fill you up.”

Pacific Dining provides a one-stop food service with a grab-and-go area, salad bar, Starbucks coffee service and menu of four station themes: Arrezio, Casa Solana, Brix Grill and Block & Barrel.

Arrezio’s menu has an Italian concept, whereas Casa Solana is Latino-themed. Brix Grill offers burgers, hot dogs and vegetarian options. Block & Barrel provides a variety of deli sandwiches.

The food service hours in the Cafeteria are 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. It is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

The vendor was approved by the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board at its June 22 meeting. Pacific Dining currently pays a maximum of $4,250 monthly to Contra Costa College under a contract agreement to provide food services on campus until June 2019, according to the board’s June 22 meeting minutes.

While the Campus Center and Classroom Building Project was still under construction, the district began the selection process for a new food vendor in February 2016, district Senior Buyer Ben Cayabyab said.

“A formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process was conducted as required by the California Education Code,” he said. “(Vendors) simply had to download the RFP documents from the district website, provide responses to the questions asked and submit their proposal.” 

Four food vendors including Pacific Dining, Fresh & Natural, Subway and Regent Catering submitted proposals, Cayabyab said.

A food vendor committee was then created at CCC to evaluate the proposals. Members of the committee included former Student Life coordinator Erika Greene, Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson, Business Services Director Mariles Magalong, ASU President Safi Ward-Davis and ASU Senator Francis Sanson.

Ferguson said, “We understood that CCC has a (diverse) demographic. Students come from different communities and have different tastes. We were looking for a (vendor) who was experienced with campus dining, and can also cater to our different taste buds.”

Ferguson said the committee used score sheets to evaluate the RFPs to be fair in the criteria for the student body.

The committee considered pricing, variety of options, reputation with other community colleges and other programs offered to students, Magalong said.

Cayabyab said, “(The committee) elected to move all four vendors forward to the next step, which required the vendors to do a presentation, answer follow-up questions and bring samples of food from their menus.”

Greene said during the presentations, the committee met the managers who would handle the space in the Cafeteria and inspected the quality of food the vendors. The committee selected Pacific Dining as the food vendor for CCC in April 2016.

Committee members had to sign a form of confidentiality during the selection process to  keep their decision confidential until the Governing Board finalized an agreement with the food vendor, Samson said.