Nassau Community College's vendor had two years left on its current...

Nassau Community College's vendor had two years left on its current contract and was able to terminate it early. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Community College’s on-campus food and dining services abruptly shut down this week with vending machines replacing eateries and the on-campus Starbucks closing as well, college officials said.

There’s about four weeks left to go in the semester for students who have been informed that they can access beverages and snacks from on-campus vending machines.

“Our current food services vendor has advised us that it will no longer provide dining and catering services at NCC effective Tuesday, April 16,” read a letter from Erik Paulson, consulting vice president of finance for the school and obtained by Newsday. “The college continues to actively explore different food choices and vendors, informed by feedback from over 1,100 members of the campus community who took part in a survey on dining preferences.”

According to an agenda item at the March 12 meeting of the college's finance committee, “Compass Group, our food service provider, submitted a letter of termination to NCC stating it was no longer financially feasible to continue providing food service under the current financial arrangement.” The company, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is “requesting the parties negotiate alternate financial arrangements.”

Compass representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.

College officials said the demand for on-site meals and snacks had fallen among students and staff and the vendor had reported underutilization of its services. Enrollment at the commuter school has dropped sharply over the years, from about 24,000 students in 2011 compared with about 11,000 now.

The food service vendor had proposed the college spend about $320,000 per year for the next seven years but that was too costly, said Jerry Kornbluth, NCC's vice president for community and governmental relations. The vendor had two years left on its current contract and was able to terminate it early.

In a note sent to the campus community Thursday night, NCC officials said that they are “actively exploring several options for temporary food services for the remainder of the spring semester, including food trucks and outside catering services.” The college said they are seeking proposals from food service providers for the fall semester and beyond.

“We are all hands on deck and we will get through this semester and once we get through we will be good because we will have a new company for the fall,” Kornbluth said.

The issue arises as the college is facing a multimillion deficit and the faculty recently approved a no-confidence vote in the current leadership. College officials recently approved consolidating academic departments — a plan that has drawn opposition from the faculty.

“This is the latest blunder in a series of negligent actions that calls into question the competence of NCC,” said Faren Siminoff, president of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers. “The failure of the administration to respond immediately is jeopardizing the health and food security of our students on campus.”

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