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Penn recently announced that it will change its dining services provider from Philadelphia-based Aramark to Bon Appetit Management Company of Palo Alto, Calif.

The agreement for the University and Aramark to exit their contract on July 12 was mutual, according to University and Aramark representatives.

Bon Appetit, which operates on campuses such as Washington University in St. Louis, Case Western University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will “build on the foundation Aramark laid out,” business services representative Barbara Lea-Kruger said.

She added that Bon Appetit is an “industrial leader” in sustainability.

“We’re excited about Bon Appetit,” said Lea-Kruger. “I think they have some really exciting programs.”

While the University cannot comment on the changes in the food that will be served, Lea-Kruger said that new stations will be added in Houston Hall, including Mongolian and dessert counters.

She also said that the price of meal plans will remain the same for the next academic year.

Because of the change in food-service providers, Aramark will be cutting 185 jobs at the University effective July 12. Aramark will continue to partner with the University at the Steinberg Conference Center, the Palestra, and with technical engineering services.

Lea-Kruger assured that “all former employees have been encouraged to apply for the positions they had under Aramark” and that Bon Appetit has been on campus to interview prospective employees. In an e-mail, she also said that most of the current Aramark employees are expected to be rehired by Bon Appetit.

Additionally, Aramark is also considering “employees for other opportunities in [their] business,” Aramark representative Karen Cutler said.

Aramark interview days are being held on campus this Thursday and Friday, Cutler added.

Despite assurances from the officials, students expressed concern that current dining staff members would not be re-hired by Bon Appetit.

When 2009 Engineering alumnus Tal Raviv and 2009 College alumnus Ari Tolwin discovered that the dining staff of Hillel was fired, they created a petition to business services director Laurie Cousart for their re-employment by Bon Appetit.

Raviv said that Hillel staff “had expressed concern but said it would be more powerful if students went to Laurie [Cousart] with a letter.”

Within 48 hours, the petition filled up with names and comments from over 200 Penn students, Raviv added.

Raviv and Tolwin intend to print out copies of the petition, which contains paragraphs of praise for the Hillel dining staff, so that the staff can use them as recommendation letters for Bon Appetit and other employers.

“The Hillel dining staff makes the food exactly to the students’ specifications and never fails to serve it with a smile and warm greeting,” one petitioner wrote. “They are such integral parts of their own dining hall that the experience inside couldn’t possibly be the same without them.”

Another signer agreed, writing, “The Hillel dining staff have become a keystone of the Hillel dining experience.”

She explained that it would be unjust for them to lose their jobs for reasons “beyond their personal control.”

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