Levine is a first-year politics major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Connor McCourtney
I simply cannot hold it in any longer; Sodexo may be the worst food supplier in the history of all food suppliers. I mean, honestly, we’d probably be served better in prison, which makes me wonder if Drake would allow students to head on over to the county jail during mealtimes? Being surrounded by hardcore criminals may not be comforting, but I’d do anything for a nice steak.
In all seriousness though, Sodexo needs to step its game up. I could sit here and discuss the numerous times that I’ve found hair in my food or the one time that literally half of my grilled chicken sandwich was a hard, unedible tendon, but those are rather petty complaints compared to the overall problem with our eatery. The real problem is this: The food is extremely unhealthy. Seriously, where else could I eat nothing but fruit and vegetables yet still gain weight? It is as if even Sodexo’s supposedly “healthy foods” are fattening and although I am impressed by this fairly amazing feat, I’d rather have food that is not going to kill me before I graduate.
Of course, the food they serve us during the academic school year is nothing like when we first visited. Being a student here full-time, I have now noticed the difference between everyday dining and special dining; when there is a large group of prospective students on campus, Hubbell becomes a neo-Ruby Tuesday. All right, admittedly, Ruby Tuesday’s is kind of an average restaurant, but after eating here for a year, it seems like full-blown kosher.
And don’t forget about parents’ weekend. When all the middle-aged folks—you know, with the money—come into town, things start to change. It was during parents’ weekend that, for the first time at Drake, I saw strawberries and it was like an agricultural epiphany. The stark difference in food made me bewildered and I half expected waiters to come out, serve a three-course meal and then serenade the students. It was a nutritious bliss of sorts.
This upgrade does not last long, though, and before we know it, the food is back to, well, whatever it actually is. I will admit that the breakfast they serve is not all that bad—the eggs are usually good, the bacon is a little too crispy for my liking, but nothing horrible, and the pancake, French toast and waffle combination is killer. But post-breakfast in Hubbell is like choosing between 10 different ways to gain weight. No, Sodexo, I don’t want to decide between a sickly looking hamburger, some sort of broccoli with cheese mixture and a salad that has the most insanely hard grilled chicken. Instead, I’d like to maybe have some nice fruit—that isn’t firm as a rock or soft as baby food—and chicken that tastes like, preferably, chicken.
Because of the poor food quality, I needed to find out more about Sodexo. Could it possibly be due to the fact that the company is struggling financially and the quality of food represents its economic standing? Of course that is a ridiculous assumption and, as I expected, is far from the truth. In 2010, Sodexo posted a 4.1 percent increase in full-year net profits and, in 2011, the company hopes to earn even more. This part does not bother me because as a private company it is meant to seek profit, and I understand that. However, when the products become poor in quality a problem arises, especially because Sodexo has a monopoly over the heavily regulated food market at Drake.
Talking about the subpar food is not constructive, though. If we really want to change the quality of what we are served then we need to do something. Remember, as a consumer of Sodexo’s products we have a great deal of influence. Of course, as I just alluded to, this is complicated by the fact that Drake has a contract with Sodexo that guarantees its products only. But this does not mean we can’t wield our power. Taking those annoying surveys at lunch (and answering honestly) as well as writing to Sodexo here at Drake and demanding a change is a definite start.
The next step would be to ask our university to consider a change when Sodexo’s contract is up, that is, if the company does not upgrade our food. Perhaps Drake could allow some old-fashioned competition between food suppliers? Anyway, remember, we do have a significant amount of power as students and maybe if we make enough noise we’ll see strawberries once again. Ah, whom am I kidding, let’s go eat with the inmates down at the county jail.