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Commentary: Sodexo food is unacceptable

Two things have become increasingly apparent this year to some students: 1) The food here sucks and 2) They don’t care to fix it.

“Bland and flavorless doesn’t pair well with a lack of option,” Cameron Lee-Parker said. 

Multiple attempts for change, including advocating for better options, voicing vegetarian needs, and actually filling out the Sodexo survey have been made. They’ve heard our (limited) praises, our grievances and our pleas to improve the food, and they still haven’t answered our prayers. Are you even listening, oh Sodexo food gods?

Let’s set some things straight from a previous 2012 TD article:

In this article, a reporter had interviewed the Regional Sodexo Manager Carla Carlson, where Carlson had made a statement along the lines of, “chicken breast is chicken breast” and while I’d like to congratulate Carlson on knowing their meats, part of the problem is the fact that the chicken breast has found a way to be burnt to a crisp, undercooked, and dry as a bone all at the same time. I don’t even eat meat anymore, but freshman me had these problems, and my omnivore friends complain about it daily. 

“It [the quality of food] just makes it really hard for me to want to eat anything but quesadillas and fries,” sophomore Sarah Princapato said. 

More and more students are switching from walking to Hubbell to DoorDashing, Grubhubbing, and Uber eats-ing their meals. One would beg to ask if this expensive food hell is just a problem with Drake, but it seems to be the same with other Sodexo customers too.

After interviewing students at Simpson College, which uses Sodexo as its food provider as well, it became clear that they have the same feelings as Drake students.

“The quality really varies, but usually it’s not edible, resorting to more people not using their meal plan, myself included,” Simpson student Cam Whiles said. “I don’t think they really season anything and the fruit they serve isn’t ripe so it’s literally not edible.” 

And while I’d love to give Sodexo the benefit of the doubt and say that lack of training would be the problem, Dr. Becky Maes on “Is it bad for you” agreed with the comments Cam While made. She states that Sodexo is not good for you, and that the healthiest alternative is to pack a homemade lunch.

Excuse me?

I pay $2,564 a semester to be advised to pack my meal at home because the food was deemed not healthy? 

Now, let’s get to the reason why I wrote this: 

J-term was one long month-ish of vegetarians begrudgingly swallowing salad after salad. After my 3rd day of salad, I asked my fellow vegetarians what they had been eating, because maybe they could see options that I couldn’t. 

To my disappointment, they had also been forcing down salads. After a few emails with the nutritionist, we had gotten some tofu, a form of protein on the salad bar. Happily ever after, right? Hahaha, no. 

“It lacks substance,” Parker-Lee said. “It’s just side dishes made in large quantities to pass off as a meal.”

In a model close to Lucy ripping the football away just before Charlie Brown could kick it, the tofu mysteriously disappeared after 3 days, which tells me one of two things: either they put it on to shut me up and never intended on restocking it, or there were so many vegetarians here that we ate the entire stock that they had ordered. 

“But Liv,” you may be asking, “isn’t there a vegetarian station so that people who eat vegetarian have something to eat?” The short answer is that there was

But they covered the vegetarian symbol up with two sticky notes. My personal favorite vegetarian “options” over J-term were a choice of Corn or Grits (two separate stations), Salad, and Jasmine Cilantro Rice and Santa Fe black beans, but they mixed the rice and black beans and forgot the jasmine and cilantro. 

I didn’t see anything vegetarian until someone had Yik Yaked “I’d rather have an ED than be vegetarian and eat at Hubbell.” The next day, which coincidentally had also been both the last couple days of J-term and a tour day, there were vegetarian options. 

There was something that we could eat at every station, and a Hubbell employee had turned to a broken record saying, “I have to let you know, this is vegetarian” and “everything at my station is vegetarian today.”

The thing that’s the most disappointing about this whole ordeal is that no matter what we do, they don’t seem to care. We pay so much money to be here, stay here, and eat here. The classes and housing are both up to par, but the food is far below. Someday, maybe the Sodexo food gods will hear our prayers and answer them in some capacity. 

Until then, continue to fill out the survey, talk about the food, and ask yourself if you’re getting what you’re paying for, and if the answer is no, start advocating until we get what we deserve. 

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