LAFAYETTE —South Louisiana Community College campuses in Lafayette and throughout Acadiana do not provide food services, but that could change as soon as next month, officials said.

The college has issued a request for proposals for a vendor to provide “nutritionally balanced” lunch meals to students in existing student break room areas.

“We’re trying to respond to a student surveys where students said they have been wanting food service,” said Rudy Gonzales, vice chancellor of administration and finance at SLCC. “We’re being aggressive because I’d really like to start some kind of food service by March 1.”

Camille Chiasson, president of the Student Government Association chapter at the SLCC Devalcourt Street campus, said vending machines or trips off-campus to nearby fast food places are students’ current options.

“You see a lot of chip bags and sodas,” Chiasson said.

Serving lunch could foster community among students who are mostly commuters and come to campus for class and leave, she said.

“Some students don’t think they can hang out here all day. They usually just come for class and that’s about it,” Chiasson said.

In July, SLCC merged with the Acadiana Technical College, which included technical college campuses in Lafayette, Opelousas, Ville Platte, Crowley, St. Martinville, New Iberia and Abbeville. The proposal must include food delivery to all campuses, which serve a total of about 7,400 students.

Gonzales said the proposal submission deadline is Feb. 15 and the college will make its selection on Feb. 22 for the target March start.

The proposal also requests that contractors “commit adequate capital improvements” to provide the service.

Gonzales said three campuses have kitchens, but the others do not.

The Lafayette’s Ardoin campus has a commercial kitchen that is used as part of its culinary arts training program and likely won’t be available for vendors to use, he said.

The Ardoin campus serves hot lunches prepared by the students, though not on a daily basis, Gonzales said. The remaining two campuses with kitchens are the T.H. Harris campus in Opelousas and the Teche Area campus in New Iberia, he said.

The request also asks vendors to consider hiring students.

“We’re looking for (contractors) who agree to use our students as interns, so they can practice in a real-life environment what they’re learning in the classroom,” Gonzales said.