The University of Wisconsin athletic department has opted to outsource its entire food-service business and place it in the hands of a single vendor.

According to wiscnews.com, the athletic department currently runs its own catering department to prepare and serve daily athlete meals, as well as food and drinks in premium areas at events. It employs 30 full-time staff members in addition to part-time workers and students in its food and beverage shop. UW last week posted an opening for a vendor to provide concessions and catering functions starting in the 2019-20 school year.

In 2013, UW selected Chicago-based Learfield Levy Foodservice as its concessions provider after the National W Club had served in the role since 1962. UW now is seeking a five-year contract for the complete food and beverage package through the 2023-24 school year, with the option for five one-year extensions.

"We’ve been operating a hybrid with Levy and our in-house [operation] that probably just doesn’t have the consistency," senior associate athletic director Justin Doherty told wiscnews.com, adding that the change will help UW athletics better manage seasonal needs for food and beverage and accommodate growth.

Athletics’ food and beverage staff serves around 850 meals to athletes per day and is responsible for catering for suites and club seats at Camp Randall Stadium, the Kohl Center and University Ridge Golf Course. Learfield Levy manages concession stands at UW Athletics venues, with net sales of more than $5.2 million for 176 events in the 2017-18 school year.

Current UW Athletics food and beverage employees will have an opportunity to work elsewhere on campus or with the new vendor, Doherty said. The bid document contains a requirement that the new provider first consider hiring those displaced from UW positions at an hourly rate or salary at least equal to what they were making at UW.

Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.