Fresh and Natural Gets Spoiled

If you're one of the many patrons who visits "Fresh and Natural" in the cafeteria to pick up some Asian cuisine for lunch, a sandwich on your way to class, or a burrito, then here's some bad news for you. The food and snack provider will soon be leaving Santa Monica College, and a new vendor will be coming in to replace it.

Fresh and Natural's contract with the school is now ending and SMC is selecting another company to take its place.

This is a pretty standard procedure for the college.

"Every five years we go through a procurement process," said SMC Director of Purchasing Keith Webster. A state mandate requires the school to only contract with vendors for five years. Once that time is up, the school must go about setting up a new contract.

This process involves sending out a specific set of requirements-called an RFP (or, Request For Proposal)-to any and all qualified vendors, including the one that previously had a contract with the school. All vendors then get to submit their own proposals, which are then sent to an SMC evaluation committee that ranks the best ones. Those results are then forwarded to a second committee that ends up making the final recommendation to the school on which vendor to select. There are no favorites and it is not guaranteed that the previous vendor will receive a new contract and get to stay at the school.

In this most recent process, the requirements sent out to qualified vendors, as well as Fresh and Natural, were that they had to provide "international cuisine," offer a selection of vegetarian and organic options, and take part in the school's composting and recycling programs.

After the two separate committees convened, ranked different proposals, and made on-site visits with different vendors, the best proposal that emerged belonged to a vendor named: "Eatology."

Unable to provide specifics about Eatology, Webster said only that their proposal best fit what the evaluation and selection committees were looking for. He also stated that SMC is still in the early stages of this overall procedure and that it will take some time before anything is finalized. "All we've done is we've gone through the procurement process," said Webster.

A contract was sent over to Eatology for them to review last week. Webster expects some negotiating on both ends. "If we arrive at an agreement, both parties can move forward," Webster said.

Webster explained if Eatology decides not to vend at SMC, the school would move on to the second best vendor. Either way, it's not a good situation for Fresh and Natural. Its proposal was ranked fourth by the evaluation committee. In order for the current vendor to stay and get a new contract, three other prospective food service providers would either need to drop out or be nixed by the school. It doesn't look like that's going to happen.

While no official date is in place when Fresh and Natural is leaving, if you are one of the many students who likes the cuisine currently being offered, get it now while it's hot, fresh, and here.