ASGC responds to student complaints about campus food

William Dudley

ASGC VP Edwin Cruz examines letters about Sodexo's service

William Dudley

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — When Grossmont students get hungry, can they find adequate food choices and service on campus? Not according to some students, including board members of the Associated Students of Grossmont College (ASGC).
The ASGC has been receiving complaints about campus food and Sodexo, the French multinational corporation that is contracted by the college district to operate most eateries at both the Grossmont and Cuyamacca campuses. In response, the student association has set up information booths to educate students and solicit input on their food experiences with Sodexo. ASGC plans to make student concerns heard at the next meeting of the Food Advisory Committee, scheduled for October 21 at 3 p.m. at the College Conference Center.
ASGC Board member Sikarra Devers has collected and read some student complaints and has noticed several themes. One is that students are dissatisfied with the food choices available, especially the absence of fresh and healthy food (an issue covered by the Summit here). Students taking evening classes have complained that there are even fewer choices available to them because of Sodexo’s limited hours of operation.   
 
Students have also complained about the lack of value for money. ASGC Vice President Edwin Cruz estimates that while five dollars can buy enough food to feed two or three students at a place like Fresh ‘N Easy, it can barely buy enough to feed one person from Sodexo facilities. But many students, according to Devers, say that going off campus to eat is not an option because of class schedules and parking hassles.
 
Another complaint has been how students are treated by Sodexo employees, with some students saying customer service has been poor and even rude, and that employees who did provide good service have been let go.
 
Roger Stillman, who arrived a few weeks ago as the interim  general manager for Sodexo operations at Grossmont, stated that Sodexo “is aware there have been concerns raised,” saying further that “we are working the best we can with what we have.”


 
In response to suggestions of unfriendly customer service, he suggested that the “stress of change” relating to the temporary location may account for that, but stated that they are “addressing that very seriously.”

Sodexo microwave

There have been rumors that Sodexo workers have prevented Grossmont students from using the microwave unless they bought something at the store.
 
According to Stillman, the problem is not the microwave, but the power supply at the store’s new location. When it is used, the oven overloads and shuts down the building’s electricity, causing obvious problems for computers and refrigeration units and other appliances. He said he had talked to a Grossmont technician, but did not know when the power issue would be resolved.

Stillman’s account was later confirmed by Grossmont Vice President Tim Flood, who blamed a design error. Sodexo’s new facilities were equipped with a circuit  to handle 100 amps of electricity — an amount that has proven woefully inadequate. Flood said Grossmont was in discussions with its design and building contractors on how best fix the situation.
 
Stillman could not answer the question of whether there was an official Sodexo policy limiting use of the microwave to paying customers. He did note such a policy might be helpful prevent customers from inconvenient delays in using the microwave.
 
Students who want to make their views heard have several choices. ASGC is still collecting both positive and negative reports from students. They can be taken at ASGC offices or e-mailed to Cruz at [email protected].
 
Stillman said comment cards were available at Sodexo facilities for students to provide customer feedback. He says he reads such cards the day they are submitted and quickly responds to them.
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Dudley is a student in Media Comm 132