Shared solution for a shared predicament among three Central New York schools

Originally Published to Cornell University’s Website

November 2, 2020

When three of the region’s higher education institutions discovered they shared a sudden need to find a new primary food distributor, Cornell University, Ithaca College, and SUNY Cortland realized they had an opportunity to gain some efficiencies while continuing to influence collegiate dining trends. All three schools prepared requests for proposals to food distributors that could operate in Central New York, and all three were able to compare notes on the candidates.
 
In late June, the three schools all selected Performance Food Group, Inc., dba PERFORMANCE Foodservice – Springfield, to provide the broad array of fresh produce, meat, seafood, and all the other supplies needed to maintain complex campus dining operations. PFG, too, traces its roots over a century back, when James Capers began peddling groceries for a wholesaler in Richmond, Virginia back in 1885. His business grew to distribute branded products to restaurants and foodservice outlets across the country, and evolved until the mid-1980s when leaders collaborated to “bring together a network of distributors with the corporate support to become an industry giant,” and Performance Food Group was born in 1987.
 
This year’s cooperation was a natural outgrowth of last year’s partnership that brought Cornell and Ithaca College together to help IC build a new dining program to replace its longstanding partnership with a corporate operation. The timing also coincided with SUNY Cortland’s efforts this spring to refocus their dining program on “Global Inspiration & Local Connections.”
 
“When being faced with the need to identify a new Prime vendor we enthusiastically collaborated with our colleagues at Cornell University & Ithaca College to discuss the best practices we would need,” says Jeff Scott, Director Dining Services at SUNY Cortland. “Performance Food Service presented the innovative supply proposals needed to support our global & plant strong menu concepts. They also offered top notch nutritional and sustainability programs that will support the health of our guests and the environment,” he adds.
 
“When we moved to a self-operating dining program last year, Dustin and the Cornell team were extremely gracious sharing their knowledge and being terrific neighbors,” says Bill Guerrero, Vice President for Finance & Administration at Ithaca College.” Who thought the journey would take another curveball this year when our valuable business partner, Maines Food & Paper became a casualty of the current health and economic crisis?”
 
PFG’s Performance Foodservice – Springfield operating company, or opco, is an active sponsor of NACUFS, the National Association of College and University Food Services, and of the annual NACUFS conferences that draw Cornell, IC, and SUNY Cortland as frequent participants.
 
“PFG is also an active sponsor of Menus of Change, an initiative that’s so important to us,” says Executive Director of Cornell Dining Dustin Cutler, “so we’re very pleased that they were able to not only respond so quickly to our needs, but make it clear that they’re the right partner for Cornell moving forward — and for our peer and neighbor institutions as well.” 

“We’re honored to be chosen as the primary supplier for the highly regarded and forward-thinking dining service programs at Cornell University, Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland,” said Bob Crory, President, Performance Foodservice – Springfield. “With our shared philosophies around sustainable food systems and supporting local and regional manufacturers, we’re excited about the synergies of this new relationship for Performance Foodservice, the dining service programs, and all those they serve. We are proud to be a leading supplier to independent colleges and universities in the Northeast and are pleased to begin what we hope will be a long and valuable partnership.”
 
Cornell Dining’s Dustin Cutler says, “Each of our schools takes a slightly different approach to planning and providing creative and delicious meals for our campus communities, but working together this summer proves that we all have the same basic need for a supplier we can count on for the tremendous variety of fresh food we need day in and day out.” SUNY Cortland’s Jeff Scott added that PFG “demonstrated the passion for innovation we’re seeking from a Prime Vendor partner.”
 
Ithaca College’s Bill Guerrero says, “The fact that three fabulous, yet distinctly different institutions, Cornell, SUNY Cortland, and Ithaca College, were able to collaborate and agree on a single new partner in Performance Food Group, to provide food for our communities, is a model for institutions of higher education across the country to achieve their respective strategic goals in these uncertain and unprecedented times.”

The relationship will be assisted by United Food Service Operators (UFSO), a purchasing management organization that works exclusively with Performance Food Group. UFSO negotiates proprietary manufacturer and service provider agreements on behalf of member locations, and works to complement and optimize the supply chain management system for each location.”We are very proud to add Cornell University, Ithaca College & SUNY Cortland to our portfolio,” said Paul Levos, CEO of UFSO. “The synergies inherent with these three iconic institutions coming together empowers us to collectively optimize the current spend while seamlessly adding additional cost saving measures.”  
 

About Cornell Dining

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in the Princeton Review’s top ten for best campus food among all colleges and universities in the country. That high rating comes from customer surveys, and reflects Cornell Dining’s commitment to serving high-quality foods that are healthy and creatively prepared with genuine care for a diverse community. Cornell Dining operates 29 on-campus eateries — which include all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms, cafés, coffee houses, food courts, and convenience stores — and serves more than 23,000 meals a day to members of the Cornell community. For more information, visit dining.cornell.edu.

Two people unload a pallet of food supplies at a loading dock
Bob Bushey from PFG and Eric Moyer from Cornell Dining unload a food delivery for North Star Dining Room at the Appel Commons loading dock.