Connect with us


Chartwells, Barnard’s New Dining Provider, Is Dogged By International Controversies

Barnard’s new dining provider, selected after student protests over Aramark’s connections to prison labor, has a more problematic history than it lets on. 

Last year, student activist group Barnard No Aramark led protests calling for Barnard to cut ties with its then dining provider, Aramark, because of Aramark’s ties to private prisons. A yearlong selection process involving a hired consultancy, town halls, and SGA meetings led Barnard to choose Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services as its new dining provider.

However, Compass Group, Chartwells’ parent company and the largest catering firm in the world, has been criticized for abuses ranging from substandard services to vast corruption. Eurest Dining Services, another subsidiary of Compass, serves prisons in Canada and has been accused of exposing Ontario prisoners to listeria. Barnard Dining’s website says that Compass Group does not operate in any prisons in the United States – conveniently leaving out to the prisons it serves in other countries.

Compass Group is also heavily invested in military operations around the world. Eurest Support Services (ESS), a subsidiary of Eurest Dining Services, specializes in harsh dining environments like active war zones and mines. It has contracted with the US Army, including during the war in Iraq, and the United Nations.

Compass’s work with the UN led to a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal in the 2000s. ESS worked with disgraced U.N. official Alexander Yakovlev in order to get UN contracts in West Africa. Yakolev resigned and was charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Peter R. Harris, the then-CEO of Compass Group’s UK, Ireland, Middle East, and Africa department, was dismissed for “improper conduct” regarding the scandal. Bonus: Russian diplomat Vladimir Kuznetsov was also arrested and sentenced to prison after taking nearly $1 million in bribes from the Compass Group.

Then, in 2013, Compass Group admitted to unknowingly serving horse meat and pork in Europe, advertised as “beef burgers.” Testing on some meat products found that they contained as much as 100% horse meat. The presence of pork DNA had particular significance for Jewish and Muslim students who do not eat pork due to religious reasons.

Most recently, Chartwells K-12 settled a whistleblower lawsuit for $19.4 million with Washington D.C.’s school district in 2015. The lawsuit alleged that Chartwells fraudulently caused D.C. public schools to pay much more for its services than they should have, and that the food was often spoiled or low quality.

NYU replaced Aramark with Chartwells at the same time as Barnard last year following similar student protests. Barnard specifically cites Chartwells’ commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility in its choice.

Image via Barnard Dining.

Update, 3:35 on September 30th 2019: A previous edition of this article incorrectly stated that Chartwells Higher Dining Services, not Chartwells K-12, was involved in the lawsuit.

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published.


1 Comment

  • Ron Pushcar says:

    @Ron Pushcar I worked for Chartwells for 5 years in a university setting as a director. I never was asked to buy low quality food or service any food I would not eat. It was a well run company and never experence d any underhanded dealings of any kind. Problems you stated were not company policy, but individuals who to beat the system.

  • Have Your Say

    What should you actually Venmo people for?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

    Recent Comments

    This is so sweet 🥺🥺🥺 (read more)
    Christmas Cheer On A Budget
    December 9, 2019
    this is abhorrent. get the hell away from 16personalities and learn about cognitive function theory before trying to write a (read more)
    December 9, 2019
    Good! New York desperately needs more housing, despite the complaints of rich NIMBYs. (read more)
    Columbia Officially Files To Build New Graduate Student Housing And McDonald’s On Manhattanville Lot
    December 9, 2019
    It's a joke that anyone is opposing this development. It's a literal parking lot! No one is getting displaced. (read more)
    Columbia Officially Files To Build New Graduate Student Housing And McDonald’s On Manhattanville Lot
    December 9, 2019

    Comment Policy

    The purpose of Bwog’s comment section is to facilitate honest and open discussion between members of the Columbia community. We encourage commenters to take advantage of—without abusing—the opportunity to engage in anonymous critical dialogue with other community members. A comment may be moderated if it contains:
    • A slur—defined as a pejorative derogatory phrase—based on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or spiritual belief
    • Hate speech
    • Unauthorized use of a person’s identity
    • Personal information about an individual
    • Baseless personal attacks on specific individuals
    • Spam or self-promotion
    • Copyright infringement
    • Libel