Marines tap Sodexho to feed them

Md. company gets $850 million pact

March 16, 2001|By Paul Adams | Paul Adams,SUN STAFF

There will be fewer soldiers peeling potatoes as a result of a more than $850 million food services contract between Gaithersburg-based Sodex- ho Marriott Services and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sodexho, the largest food and facilities services company in North America, will provide meals for 55 garrison mess halls in Arizona, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

The company will prepare most of the food in centralized kitchens and then deliver it to the mess halls, where final preparations will be completed on site.

The contract, which is split into two parts, could last up to eight years, said Paul Sando, who negotiated the contract for the Marines. The deal represents the first time the Corps has placed all of its food service in the hands of one provider. Previously, the mess halls independently contracted with a patchwork of food service providers across the country.

"The cost savings we hoped would be substantial, and through the competition it appears they will," Sando said. The Corps solicited 55 companies and received four bids for the contract.

The arrangement doesn't mean the Marines will get out of kitchen duty altogether.

Some will continue to receive training in food preparation so that troops won't go hungry during deployments abroad. But Sodexho will allow more of them to go back to doing what Marines do best.

"Almost 600 Marines will be pulled out of our galleys and sent back to the fleet," Sando said.

A representative for Sodexho said the contract is among the largest in the company's history. It was unclear yesterday how many jobs will result, because some of the work will be handled by small business partners.

Sodexho will manage several subcontractors, which will be responsible primarily for serving the meals at the Marine mess halls.

"We in turn will provide them with all of our own Sodexho Marriott Service training," said John Benke, director of business development for the company.

Sodexho has about $4.7 billion in annual sales and 111,000 employees at 5,000 locations in the United States and Canada.

Sodhexho shares rose 11 cents to close at $28.96 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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