Students in the Lions Den Dining HallFollowing a comprehensive review of its foodservice strategy and an extensive search process, the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith has chosen Chartwells Higher Education as its new dining service provider beginning July 1.


Chartwells plans to transform the on-campus dining experience at UAFS to create a premier food service program that emphasizes quality, made-to-order food, menu customization, variety, ethically-sourced foods, and excellent value, to foster student success and education. Chartwells will operate under the “UAFS Eats” name to align with the university’s mission and brand.


“The UAFS community is very excited about the changes that are coming with our new dining partner,” said Beth Eppinger, director of Housing and Residential Life at UAFS. “Their student focus through hiring, marketing internships, and student catering is just the beginning. They have established @UAFSeats on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and they will launch a Text2Chat platform this fall so customers can provide immediate dining feedback.”


As part of its student-centric program approach, several enhancements are planned across campus, including an all-new C-Store Market in the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center Food Court featuring fresh-and-ready sandwiches, wraps, salads, and protein plates and a variety of snacks.


The Campus Center locations of Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Subway will stay intact for the 2021 academic year. The location formerly held by Oath Pizza will transition to a yearly student choice venue beginning with Two12, which will serve a rotating menu of craft pasta and flatbreads. Students and other guests will then be able to vote for a new concept to fill the space for the fall 2021 semester.


The Lion’s Den will transition to a “Dine & Connect” experience with a heavy emphasis on offering more healthy foods made from scratch and an extensive allergen program that clearly labels all foods with appropriate information. BalancedU communication will be found throughout the dining hall, identifying vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and balanced menu items.


Chartwells also plans to introduce the “Carved & Crafted” catering experience to campus with a hyper-local focus to support area farms and farmers. The catering menus introduced on campus will offer different tiers of service from high-end events, everyday buffets, and a student-focused guide, along with a contactless and disposable catering program to choose from.


With priority placed on the care and concern of its people, Chartwells committed to interview and hire all existing associates in the UAFS community pending a successful background check. Open positions with Chartwells are posted at  


Following a spring semester that was far from normal, Chartwells is working to put student health and safety at the forefront. UAFS and Chartwells are involved in various ongoing conversations regarding COVID-19 and bringing our students back to the safest environment possible. Those plans include creative solutions to provide meals to individuals who may be on campus during the month of July through catering and pickup retail solutions.


“The Chartwells team is working diligently to create safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eppinger. “Currently our plans include full-service stations in the Lion’s Den Dining Hall, reduced seating with increased to-go options, and a plan for students living on campus who may need to self-quarantine.”


The dining team, led by Director of Dining Services, David Flannery, Executive Chef Jennifer Paul, and Assistant Director, Holly Dintelmann, will be ready to serve Cub Camp participants and students moving in early when the Lion’s Den Dining Hall opens August 15. The Campus Center Food Court will follow in full operation for the first day of classes on August 17.


A new and dynamic team management team will be introduced to the campus community this fall as well. They’re currently working diligently to ensure a safe return for all students this fall semester.


About Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services
Chartwells is the recognized leader in contract food service management, hospitality, and award-winning guest service within 280 college and university dining environments throughout academic institutions across the United States. Chartwells’ brand mantra, “Where Hungry Minds Gather,” signifies its commitment to reinventing the dining experience for the next generation of students and beyond. Our nutritious cuisine not only satisfies the unique appetites, lifestyles, and dietary needs of every guest dining on campus, but it also brings people together to promote the high-intensity relationships that will prepare students for the future. For more information go to

Date Posted: 
Thursday, July 9, 2020
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