Tracking Sodexo’s food production

How, as students, can we know for sure that Ullman Commons is the healthiest option for food? For those who are gluten free or have other food allergies, can they truly trust that their options are not contaminated?

“Sodexo requires our vendors to be open with where they are getting their food and with what food we are being provided, its polices and standards, there’s audits being done on the premise where we purchase our food from,” Patti Yantzer, general manager of Sodexo for California Lutheran University said. “For groceries, meats and some produce we would get it from Sysco Ventura, they carry local sustainable products. Fresh Plains is our produce provider and the majority of their farms are within a 250-mile radius. Our dairy vendor is Alta Dena.” 

“It is more economical because of Ventura’s location to use the local farms for Sodexo,” Clinton Oie director of Auxiliaries said.

Yantzer said Sodexo has a very high standard for where the vendors get their food.

Yantzer spoke about the handling of  gluten-free good and ensured that all gluten-free products are prepared by separate hands or put in separate areas.

Oie said Sodexo is not in the position to serve a serious celiac person because there is always a risk.

“It is free of the top eight allergens those are milk, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts and gluten for people with food allergies, gluten intolerance or other special dietary needs,” Yantzer said.

According to Oie, the Simple Servings section has become extremely popular mostly because the chef makes it very attractive to the students.

“Right now we have gluten- free pans for pizza, gluten-free pots for pasta and a separate area for all the gluten-free food being brought in, but it’s hard to know if something is completely uncontaminated because we only have one kitchen,” Yantzer said.

Ullman Commons is in the process of working with Eric Flores to find a solution for the food waste.

“We are in process with working with Eric Flores to source a local church that will accept our leftover product. Vegetable and fruit waste will be feeding the worms in the seed garden,” Yantzer said. “The leftovers have to be given to someone who is willing to take the liability of picking up the food.”

Flores is a Cal Lutheran student and intern for the Community Service Center, with a focus on homelessness and poverty. Flores has been looking into the food production and the waste of the leftovers at Ullman Commons.

According to Flores, Sodexo has a two-part system for disposing of the waste they receive from students during dining hours.

“The first part is characterized by the use of two machines: a food pulper and a food dehydrator. The processed matter is taken to a machine that further dehydrates it and bakes it. Ideally this matter is ready to be composted” Flores said. “The second step in the current system is to take this final product and distribute it among campus grounds in order for it to decompose naturally”.

Flores said a problem with this system is the final product is not decomposing for an unknown reason. However, Samuel Thomas, from the religion department, is pioneering new research within the Sodexo kitchen that will hopefully fix this problem.

Flores is also working with Jeffery Roberts, the Alternative Breaks intern, to develop “a system in which this food, as well as leftover food from large events, is picked up and distributed to those who could benefit from it by a third party organization such as a local non profit.”

Flores said he wants to continue raising student awareness about all the efforts that the university is currently making to become more sustainable, and encourages students to ask the question, “What can I do as a student to be more sustainable?”

Jessica Gilbert
Staff Writer
Published March 9th, 2016