Food frustrations? Let Sodexo know

Photo by Grace Williams.

Photo by Grace Williams.

Grace Williams, Business and Social Media Manager

   Food in Sodexo is often likened to roads in Oklahoma–never good enough. Students have a plethora of wants and needs when it comes to Sodexo. Whether you have a special dietary need ranging from vegan to gluten free options or simply want something healthier, this is the year to voice your concerns as a new food contract is being negotiated for the 2015-2016 school year.  

  If you have an allergy or special dietary need this year, there are venues to voice your concerns about both Sodexo and Pops Lounge, which both fall under Sodexo’s domain.

   Tabitha Pope, director of Disability Services, said, “Special dietary needs are disabilities because if you are sick or hungry due to lack of appropriate food then it will affect your school work.”

   Two years ago, Pope organized a meeting between Sodexo staff and those with certain dietary constraints such as gluten intolerance. “People may not know that Wendy, one of the chefs at Sodexo, is also gluten intolerant. All of Sodexo’s staff is willing to work with students.”

  Pope plans to organize another meeting this year for students who have any dietary concerns, whether documented or by choice, such as veganism. Email her at tpope@snu.edu to be included. “Two years ago, the students who met with the staff were able to suggest products they liked and were able to give input into planning menus of food they liked and were able to eat. They were also given a phone number to call ahead of arriving at sodexo so a specific plate could be made. We are hoping to find more vegan and gluten-free options that are cheaper for Pops lounge.”

   Amber Noyes, Sodexo Manager, said, “Please communicate your special needs, whether chosen or biological, at any time during service or in the office between 2-4pm when the dining hall is closed [take the elevator]. We want to make meals that fit your needs before you arrive. I want all students to fill out comment cards [located on the wall across from the cash register, next the the office door] for any problem about Pops Lounge or Sodexo.”

   Sodexo has a real incentive to be mindful of student requests due to the contract negotiation going on this year.

  Scott Strawn, Vice President for Business and Finance, said, “Food contracts last 10 years, and Sodexo’s will be up in 2014-2015. We are accepting bids from several companies and will choose 2 or 3 companies to come in and research our campus. They will also do market research on teens 14 and up since they will be benefiting from our next contract as well.”

 A student committee will be formed to give input on this decision. Speak with student development staff such as Michael Houston or Marian Redwine if you would like to be included on the committee.

   “We will evaluate our facilities as well as our dining options. We have seen that students like made to order options such as pasta bar and Pops, so we are looking in that direction.” said Strawn.

   Your input this year may have a lasting impact on SNU’s foodservice for the next 10 years, but that does not mean it cannot start this year as well.

   Strawn said, “We have flexibility. If students really want sodexo open from 6-8pm and they tell us that, then we will look into it. We’ve changed things before, such as the meal exchange in Pops, which has only been going on for the past two years.”

   Noyes said, “Our menu is developed by our head chef and reevaluated at times based on student behavior. In Pops, we can track what people order and the substitutions they make, which gives us good input. We are willing to investigate any option if many students suggest it and will change if it is feasible. So, for example, if you want yogurt as a side in Pops, just let us know.”

   Alan Baur, freshman Physical Therapy major who has 15 meals a week, said, “I love the Sodexo staff; they are so nice. I wish Sodexo and Pops had healthier options, specifically real eggs. I think healthy, good quality food is the best investment.”

   In an attempt to provide healthy food, Sodexo will begin a Mindful program which will provide fresh and healthy food primarily at lunch, and these Items will be marked fresh. For example, instead of always providing hamburgers, some days in the classics area there will be Tilapia and hummus with pita chips instead.

  Do not just complain about Sodexo any longer, grab a comment card or email Amber Noyes with all your suggestions and concerns about foodservice at SNU in Pops Lounge or in Sodexo.