Sodexo Hears Student Concerns Through USG Forum


The Sodexo meeting addressed a number of concerns brought to USG by students (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)


On Thursday, Oct. 15, Sodexo Food Services met with representatives of all branches of the United Student Government to address problems in dining services, mainly concerning “the flow of the Ram Cafe, and how quickly students are getting their food,” according to Yint Hmu, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ‘17 and president pro tempore of United Student Government (USG). “It’s messy because there is no way of knowing where the line begins and where the line ends sometimes.”

According to John Azzopardi, resident district manager of Sodexo at Lincoln Center, the cafe can’t put up delineators “since even temporary stanchions would violate New York fire safety rules.”

In response to this, Hmu suggested stickers on the ground to outline where the line for the register would be. “That’s a good idea, since floor graphics are very popular right now,” Azzopardi responded.

A large part of the discussion hinged on preparation for gluten-free foods. Making foods gluten-free as opposed to dairy-free hinges a lot on preparation, according to Sue Irukulla, general manager of Sodexo. “It’s very difficult to certify that something is truly gluten-free,” she said. What the Sodexo officials are referring to is called cross-pollination. Grains with gluten can still contaminate food that is gluten free because standard cleaning processes does not easily remove the microscopic gluten grains.

“We have options that are gluten-free, we just have to be careful on how we prepare the food. It’s really a question of marketing, so we do need to make it clear that if they want something prepared gluten-free we can do that,” she continued.

“It’s a little unclear sometimes when something is gluten-free, so I hope labeling can become a bit more consistent,” Dorothy Wenzel, director of OSLCD who was also present at the meeting, said. Irukulla promised to address these concerns as well.

“We also have a registered dietician who can walk students through our dining options, take them through what they can eat what they can ask the chefs about,” Annette Collazo-Comito, resident dining manager, added.

Hmu also voiced the concern of several commuters, stating “the early closing times on Fridays seem to be an issue, since they don’t have any convenient places to eat, and BonMi is too far away from where classes are held.”

Wenzel added, “I do notice when students get out of class at 3:45 is a critical flow, and a lot of Graduate School of Education classes get in on 4 on Fridays.”

“At the very least, pushing the closing back to 4 would alleviate the issues of people leaving classes and having no options to eat,” Azzopardi responded.

The committee solved the apparent issue of students not knowing that “you can check the menu online,” Hmu said. “Some signs would be helpful just so we can remember where to check for the menu for the whole week is.”

Irukulla agreed, “it would be an easy fix to print them out and put them up today even.” Azzopardi added, “we can go print them out and have them up on Friday even … we’ll even be launching an app called ‘Bite’ in the next three to four weeks that can update menu changes the day of.” The representatives of Sodexo also asked if the information could be sent out via email, to which Wenzel offered assistance.

A number of other issues were brought up by Hmu, however many were already resolved by the day of the meeting.. Some time was also taken at the end of the meeting to clear up a long-standing rumor that the eggs served in the morning were not actually eggs.

“They’re a pasteurized liquid egg product, and they are 100 percent full egg. They’re actually safer to use since there is absolutely no risk of salmonella,” Azzopardi said.

Pasteurization is the process of heating a product to remove microbes that causes food to spoil.  Pasteurized eggs can be served in liquid form or in cartons, similar to egg white products sold in local supermarkets.

The next meeting of the Food Services Committee will be held on Nov. 19. Representatives from USG, as well as the Commuting Students Association (CSA) and the Residence Hall Association (RHA), all sit on the committee and are open to student feedback.