California Lutheran University’s food and dining service provider, Sodexo, is due for a contract renewal in the summer of 2019 which will determine if their services will stay on campus, or if it will be replaced with a different company.
Patricia Yantzer, Cal Lutheran’s Sodexo general manager, said Sodexo has been partners with the university for 30 years, and due to a potential competitive disadvantage, she could not answer any questions about contractual information.
Yantzer said Sodexo serves about 2,000 students a day across campus, and their menus vary at each location depending on dining preferences and dietary needs.
“Our prices are based on a combination of the amount of money we have to pay for our food and employees, and what local competitors charge,” Yantzer said.
Karley Cable, a junior at Cal Lutheran, eats on campus two to three times a week and said she only eats at The Centrum Cafe and Ullman Commons for convenience because she thinks the prices are too high for the quality of food that is served.
“I know a lot of people are not impressed with the food; there’s just not that many options that I prefer. I do think that there could be more healthy options with food that tastes better,” Cable said.
Cable said since she has a kitchen in her dorm, she would rather cook her own meals since there are no healthy choices on campus even though it’s difficult to find time between her classes and work schedule.
Associated Students of California Lutheran University President Nick Steinwender said since he is part of the regency of Cal Lutheran, he gets to experience both sides of Sodexo’s food quality.
“We get the more high-quality food from Sodexo. In my opinion, it’s more the food that they want to showcase to the ‘decision maker’s’ of the university, when the food the students receive tends to be lesser quality,” Steinwender said.
Steinwender used the Centrum Cafe as an example by saying it has both subpar food and service. He said he has waited up to 45 minutes to get a sandwich from Ullman To-Go and considered the untimely service unacceptable.
Sodexo has made headlines in the past when Pomona College dropped its contract with the company after finding out they also supply their food services to multiple prisons and detention facilities, as well as the alleged discovery of horse DNA in the meat Sodexo provided in the United Kingdom.
“Students are paying a lot of money for prison food, so I think Cal Lutheran would benefit from finding other options if there is that much controversy around Sodexo,” Cable said.
Steinwender said it is disappointing to not get the food and service he pays for as a student. He said students have voiced their opinions about the issue over the years, but nothing has ever gotten better or been addressed.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to [a student vote] – I think students should be more involved in the process. I think having more student opinions would be more beneficial,” Steinwender said.
Cable suggested a student survey to be sent out in order for everyone’s voices to be heard about the topic.
“They should be asking the students since they’re the ones who are spending countless hours here, they’re the ones paying the money to go here, so I definitely do believe they should have an opinion,” Cable said.
Steinwender said he thinks Cal Lutheran should not renew its contract with Sodexo. He also encourages students to fill out review forms of Sodexo’s services that are provided in the dining locations on campus.
“I would definitely bring that to President Kimball as well as the Board of Regents and say the students are not supportive of having them as our food service provider for these exact reasons. I think having just those examples and pictures to back it up, it would definitely be more easy if that’s the direction students want to go in,” Steinwender said.