Home»Opinion»Opinion: What Will it Take for UAlbany to Replace Sodexo’s Dining Services?

Opinion: What Will it Take for UAlbany to Replace Sodexo’s Dining Services?

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     UAlbany made the switch from their then-current dining service, Chartwells, to Sodexo, another dining company in 2013. But this isn’t the first time that UAlbany has dealt with Sodexo. Prior to Chartwells, Sodexo was the school’s food service provider, and according to an ASP opinions article, “Sodexo had a tenuous relationship with the university including an E. coli outbreak and labor issues.”

Baylee West

     But these weren’t the only problems the company had faced on campus either. Back in 2000, 30 UAlbany students protested the company’s removal, then called Sodexo-Marriot. “The goal… was to bring attention to the injustices being carried out by Sodexo-Marriot,” stated another opinions article.

     The protest was being held regarding a lawsuit the company was facing, as there were accusations of discrimination against minority managers in the hotel contract. Then, right after the lawsuit was taken care of, the previously mentioned E. coli outbreak sent at least six students to the hospital after they ate at Indian Quad’s dining hall, both articles mention.

     Sodexo has also seen its fair share of international outbreaks as well. There was also an E. coli outbreak around the same time as the Indian Quad outbreak in an elementary school in Wisconsin that left 19 kids sick and four more hospitalized.

     Similarly, in 2012, Sodexo faced one of its largest E. coli outbreaks to date in Germany. The outbreak left over 11,000 students infected across 500 schools. Thirty-two of those children were hospitalized due to their illness. It would be understandable to switch back to a company that only had one or two small outbreaks like these, as it is understandable in a company that large dealing with that much food. But with as many outbreaks and on this large of a scale as Sodexo has had, why would UAlbany take Sodexo back?

     When UAlbany first made the switch to Chartwells from Sodexo, it was because of poor food quality and working conditions. If this is so, why would the school entertain Sodexo a second time, if they know how poorly the first contract turned out? It seems like the university will end up losing money by continuing work with Sodexo.

     The Agriculture Department of the federal government tried to intervene in 2011 by proposing new food rules. They “would set maximum calories for school meals; require more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and limit trans fats,” according to a New York Times article. But who was opposed to these new rules? Sodexo, and other companies like them.

     Sodexo claimed that if they tried to increase fruit and vegetable intake at schools by offering more, it might result in “plate waste.” They also, with other companies like Aramark and Chartwells, claimed that “children may not want to eat healthier food.” It is from actions by companies like Sodexo that schools could pass tomato sauce on pizza as a vegetable serving.

     More recently, in October of 2017, Sodexo cancelled plans for the construction of Tully’s Good Times in the Campus Center, due to “unknown” disagreements between the two companies. According to a more recent ASP article, Sodexo and Tully’s couldn’t come to agreements about a partnership, even though Sodexo and Tully’s successfully worked together to bring the pub-style restaurant to Binghamton University, another SUNY campus.

     The article states that plans were sacked in the “11th hour,” but things like this do happen. It is unfortunate, however, that issues with Sodexo seem to continuously pop up over their long history. The Sodexo dining company is not the best choice for UAlbany, as it seems. With its numerous large-scale E. coli outbreaks, aversion to complying with healthier food rules for students, and overall disappointing record with their food, it’s hard to understand why UAlbany continues this partnership.

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Baylee West, an English major at the University at Albany, is a columnist for the Albany Student Press.

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