By Beth Binkley, Staff Writer
If you’re at all familiar with the menu within The Nosh, dining halls, or even The Southside Cafe at UMSL, you’ll know that around eighty percent of the options are sourced from a food service and facilitative company called Sodexo. With that being said, it’s likely that the reviews you’ve heard of the company's services, whether they came from a student or faculty member, expressed something along the lines of wishing there was more variety in the menus, especially for individuals who might be vegan or vegetarian. Thankfully, they’re doing just that, and as a current Sodexo employee, I feel inclined to share my opinion on the matter.
The short answer is; heck yes, I agree that the options Sodexo provides are pretty limited where they stand now. I say this not because every other student on campus and their dog believes this, but because I serve that exact demographic every Monday through Thursday, and every Monday through Thursday I have at least one customer order a side of broccoli in the place of an entire meal because their diet restricts them from ordering anything else.
Nonetheless, here’s a longer “heck yes”;
From a business standpoint, I feel that Sodexo will easily profit from simply providing more inclusive options, as I know for a fact people will purchase them, or at least appreciate the effort. From a student’s perspective, however, I have to admit that though I’m neither vegetarian or vegan, having a choice that’s a bit less...greasy will be nice here and there. (i.e., I’m slowly getting turned off of the same yogurt and humus combo I resign myself to most days, and I can’t be the only one.)
No, I’m not saying the vegan and/or vegetarian options are always inherently healthy for you, but when given the choice between a vegetable wrap and an order of chicken tenders, for the sake of my cholesterol and acne-prone skin type, I have to admit the wrap would be my choice nine times out of ten. That freshman fifteen can forget about it.
Let’s face it, though; I’m preaching to the choir here. We’ve all been eating the same ten-or-so dishes from the Nosh for at least a couple of semesters now, so when a change to the daily spread is made, the community typically rejoices and the buzz about it is loud. In fact, just yesterday a faculty member who came into the Southside did a little dance to himself when he saw we were serving roasted carrots.
Yet, as much as I agree that the change we’ve been promised is a good thing, I’d like to stress that while Sodexo isn’t perfect, it’s not the local staff’s fault. Sure, you can argue that I say this to cover my job, and who am I to stop you from believing that? Regardless, I’ve been on the
inside of the company to what I’m willing to bet is a larger extent than the average consumer, and because of this I can tell you with total honesty that the people who cook, manage, and serve the food are not the root of the issue. In fact, my team is one of the sweetest bunches of people in my life, and I’m proud to get to work with them. My coworkers and I go through precaution after precaution to ensure that the environment the food is cooked and kept in is clean and organized, and, in fact, I’ve never seen one of them do something the wrong way because it’s easier, and that’s because they care. Truly, the staff does not reflect the menu, they simply bring it to life.
Until the launch of the new items, though, I can assure you that at least half of the student body and faculty members will be waiting with hopeful hearts and growling stomachs as this new phase of our collegiate cafeteria is brought to us all.
I know I am.