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Students give feedback on Sodexo dining partnership

A Sodexo employee hands a student the Showcase food of the day in a to-go box in Shaw Student Center during Community Time on Sept. 21. The previous company, Bon Appétit, received public criticism on a student-run Instagram page called moldyshawfood, which has not posted since January 21. 2023, according to an Instagram post by @moldyshawfood. Photo courtesy of Cole Kadoguchi. Photo description: A Sodexo worker hands a student a box of food in the hot food area of Shaw.

Nikki Hardinger, general manager of Sodexo at Westminster University, said the dining service is here to help people feel welcomed and happily fed.

“We’re just here to serve good food and keep people happy,” Hardinger said. 

Students who frequently dine at Shaw Student Center have had the opportunity to share what they like and dislike about the new dining service, compared to the previous dining service, Bon Appétit. 

Sebastian Swedza Mittelstadt, a sophomore environmental studies major said, “The food is adequate, and I love how friendly the workers are.” Mittelstadt said he can already see a positive difference with Sodexo’s food options.

“I like that [Sodexo] has options for people with different eating habits,” Mittelstadt said.  

“Students can find flavorful and nutritious food, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options,” according to the Westminster Campus Dining webpage. The various options for each food category might not be enough for some people, especially those who eat gluten-free, according to Mya Zaba, a junior sociology major. 

“I don’t appreciate how [Sodexo] doesn’t have enough gluten-free options and the grilled food is really greasy and makes my tummy hurt,” Zaba said. “My mom called [Sodexo] to say that I’m having a hard time finding things to eat that won’t upset my stomach because I have dietary restrictions.”

Zaba said she hopes Sodexo will take what her mom said and decide to implement more gluten-free options so she and other gluten-free eaters can have a better eating experience on-campus.

Two students in Shaw Student Center waiting to receive their food from the newly implemented showcase station Sept. 21. This station provides a smaller portion of meals including street style and homestyle type of food.  Photo courtesy of Cole Kadoguchi. Two students in Shaw Student Center wait to receive their food from the the “homestyle” section of the food making area.

Even with the inclusivity of different eating habits, there can still be improvement made to the menu according to Lexi Monson, a sophomore nursing major, who resides on campus and eats at Shaw Student Center daily. 

“I appreciate the lower prices compared to last year, but the limited food choices can become repetitive,” Monson said. “It would be great to see a wider selection of takeout options, such as mini corn dogs or similar items.” 

Marli Reed, a sophomore undeclared major, said that having fruits and a wide variety of snacks are great, but main course meals should have a balance between simplicity and complexity.

“I like the fruit and the different types of snacks that will always be there, but as for main course meals, sometimes [main course meals] too complicated when all someone wants is just a simple meal,” Reed said. 

Reed said there is a lot of improvement that can be made, including the takeout menu having different options occasionally and the hours open longer. But, Sodexo seems to be trying to make dining life better at Westminster, compared to the dining service she’d dealt with prior. 

Sodexo wants to hear what the school community has to say about the service, and the ways that they can help improve dining life at Westminster, Hardinger said. “Sodexo wants to have a community feel. They want to hear the voices of students and feedback.”

Hardinger said if anyone ever has something they want to suggest or something regarding the dining service, they can reach out or talk directly to her and her team. 

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Cole Kadoguchi studies communication and psychology, hoping to be a sports psychologist. He plays shooting guard for the basketball team and loves getting to know new people around campus. He’s a music fanatic of the reggae/rap genre who enjoys spending time with friends and family when he gets a break from athletic events.

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