Commentary: Taking another look at Sodexo

Russell Lindquist

 

Smiling Sodexo employees hold up comment cards available at the registers (Photo:Russ Lindquist)


 

 GROSSMONT COLLEGE— For those students who abhor Sodexo, the solution could be simple: get your daily allotment of exercise.  Within 15 minutes walking (30-minute round-trip), we students have a lot of food options available to us.

Carl’s Jr., McDonalds, Taco Bell, Jack-in-the-box, Papa John’s and Wendy’s are all within a 15-minute walk from Grossmont.  You do not want ‘fast food’?  Vons, Albertsons and Rite Aid also are within 15 minutes of campus. “Parking woes” should deter no one from alternatives to Sodexo.  Walk is good for you. 

Fitness professionals agree, virtually unanimously, that all people – students included – should get a minimum 30 minutes of exercise per day. Also agreed is that walking is among the best exercises for overall health.

In a previous article ,  it had come to light that complaints have been made about the prices and quality of the food provided by Sodexo here on campus.

Edwin Cruz, Vice President of the Associated Students of Grossmont College (ASGC), has compiled  complaints, and has coordinated a program by which dissatisfied students (and satisfied students) can contribute to a body of concerns for the purpose of seeking change at Sodexo.

Sodexo cooks, from left, are Gabriela Vasquez, Alex Valenzuela, Ulises Mercado (Photo: Russ Lindquist)

I spoke with Cruz, after The Summit’s first series of news-articles regarding Sodexo.  He said that, “each complaint that we receive represents .”  I agreed, but also insisted that people who feel service is bad are far more likely to fill out a card than are those who have acceptable – even delightful – service.

So it seems that solely using complaint-forms is inadequate for accurately reflecting the average student-experience with Sodexo.

For this reason, I went out and randomly interviewed several of my fellow students, over the course of about an hour.  What follows are their respective comments about the quality of the food, the prices and the service:

“I got a chicken sandwich, the food’s really good…and the service was fine…” – Jesse Hall

“The line was really long…once I got to the front, they were really nice.  Sometimes, I feel rushed” – Lindsey Nelson

“Food was really good – better than I expected…price was a little steep, not too expensive – not enough to scare me away.  Service? It was pretty standard.” – AJ Thomasson

“I got fruit and cheese.  It was good. I don’t like swiss cheese, but the rest was good.  was fine – it was less than three bucks. was really good.” – Brittney Mason

“They need more variety.  Price? Kind of steep.  Service was alright – fair.  Usually it’s really good, but today – fair.” – Amber Lewallen

Another person who had good things to say about Sodexo’s food and service was The Summit’s own editor, faculty member Donald Harrison.  I met-up with him at the tables, and when I asked him about his tuna sandwich, he said it was “really good.”  The service?  He said that the workers were “really nice.”

As to a policy against microwave use by those who had not purchased something, Jorge Perez, a Sodexo employee said the following:

“We are just following orders, so people get mad at us – even rude – there is nothing I can do: it’s not my call.”  When asked further as to the specific order that he and the others are following, Perez said, “We can’t let everyone come in and use the microwave, because of the power problems.”

Cruz agreed that the ASGC’s microwave would be a viable alternative to Sodexo’s microwave which is no longer available.

Sodexo is a transitional food-service operation for Grossmont, and its  set-up is temporary.   Sodexo employees have being operating under circumstances which are less-than-ideal (particularly in regards to power, as was confirmed by Grossmont Vice President Tim Flood).

It was earlier reported that, “Some students saying customer service has been poor and even rude, and that employees who did provide good service have been let go.” Rumors aside, Sodexo employees are people, not rumor-fodder.

Moreover, as a critically thinking person, I would be interested in seeing substantiated the supposed rumor that Sodexo ‘keeps its rude employees and fires its employees who provide good service’.

If students dislike the selection, service and the prices of Sodexo, then an effective alternative to Sodexo’s campus-offerings would be to get that daily half-hour of exercise, and walk to one of the many nearby businesses for food (a walk which, after all, is comparable to walking across SDSU’s campus).

If enough students are truly dissatisfied with the prices, selection, food-quality and service, then perhaps nothing would solve this better than simply taking their patronage to Sodexo’s many competitors! 

However, if Sodexo well-serves the majority of students, then the cries of ‘foul’ – though loud – are simply not representative of the average student’s experience with Sodexo, and the concerns raised should be addressed but from within a more realistic context.

Manuel Lorenzo is the former manager at Sodexo’s Grossmont location and the current manager of Sodexo’s Cuyamaca operaion.  “Comment-cards are here and we always appreciate feedback, whether good or bad,” he said “I respond to concerns personally.”

Noting the space on the comment-cards available for him to respond to concerns, Lorenzo said, “often that space is too little, so I attach a separate page for …and if they give their email, I just send them a response by email, hopefully the same day… some even include their phone-number, with their comment, so I call them!”

As previously mentioned, Grossmont students can contact the ASGC with comments about Sodexo – both good and bad –  via the ASGC office, or care of VP Cruz at the following email address: [email protected].

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Lindquist is a student in Media Comm 132