StuGov Buzz: Staff working to better food quality

Everyone knows about Sodexo. Similarly, everyone has an opinion, generally negative, about Sodexo and the food it provides for us students. It is true that the food is not the best, but Justin Dreslinski, General Manager for Sodexo, and others are diligently working to make the food more nutritious, locally sourced, and offer more options (like vegetarian or gluten-free). I have worked closely with Justin and Sodexo, as have others like the Sustainability Office. Like the rest of the administration, Sodexo is open to student criticism and willing to make changes where possible. I am writing today, as a member of Student Government, to inform you on Sodexo’s efforts to listen to students and to give us the food and nutrition we need.

The efforts of Sodexo can be seen even as early as this semester. For example, Shelby Gardner, recently hired Marketing Coordinator, handed out reusable Starbucks cups in the library. If used at the Starbucks on campus will result in 1) a 10-cent reduction in price and 2) an environmentally friendly alternative to the non-recyclable cups regularly used.

Over the summer, Justin worked with the existing insurance plan the University is using to allow the surplus food grown on the University Farm to be used in kitchens and dining halls across campus. Thus, some of the food you consume is locally grown and placed on your plate.

In the same vein, all dining halls on campus now compost uneaten food and used napkins. The SUB, at this time, is not composting student generated waste. However, the SUB has silverware that are made from recycled materials but are not themselves recyclable.

The Sustainability Office (and Veggie Club) has been extremely active in pushing for greater vegetarian and vegan options in the dining halls. My personal favorite is the black bean burger. It has been made clear to those of us on Student Government when we asked Justin to speak at one of our meetings that if you have any special dietary needs, like sugar free deserts or gluten-free breads, that these options are always available. All that is needed is to ask for them and a little bit of time for the staff to get these dishes out to the main floor.

The Environmental Affairs Committee has been in close communication with Justin and Sodexo’s next steps. First, more effective advertising will be present at dish receptacles in dining halls to aid composting efforts. Further, Starbucks will begin to advertise to its customers that reusable cups (as long as they are heat resistant) are acceptable. This is an ongoing process but both parties, Student Government and Sodexo, are committed to finding healthier, more environmentally friendly solutions to the food we eat every day.