SGA will present proposal to reform Sodexo’s dining services

by Martha Schick / Beacon Staff • April 10, 2014

The Student Government Association unanimously approved an initiative asking Karen Dickinson, director of the business services; Steven Canario, the general manager of Sodexo; and the Emerson administration to improve dining services. After months of drafting and revision, it will be sent by April 15, according to SGA President Paul Almeida, a senior political communication and marketing communication double major.

The initiative is based on the results, received in December 2013, of surveys sent out to students via email, and posted on SGA’s Facebook page. It covers five areas of concern: meal plans, hours of dining halls and cafes, dietary restrictions, cleanliness, and food quality options.

The proposal included a plea to try to keep costs for students as low as possible while making these changes.

Class of 2015 senator Allison Singer spearheaded the plan. She said she doesn’t know what changes, if any, to expect.

“The only precedent for this was the dining initiative last year,” the writing, literature, and publishing major said, “which was put on the back burner when we switched food service providers.”

SGA asked Emerson to revise commuter plans to allow more options, remove the distinction between guest meals and regular meals at the dining hall, and expand meal plans to allow on-campus students three meals a day at any of the dining facilities.  

“Under the default Flex Plan, a student is allocated only 1 meal swipe and $6.44 Board Bucks per day; under the Unlimited Plan, unlimited meal swipes but only $1.49 Board Bucks per day; and under the Block Plan, less than 1 meal swipe and only $7.92 Board Bucks per day,” the initiative states. 

The proposal calls for later closing times for the Paramount Café and the dining hall, and for the stations in the Max to stay open later.

For those with dietary restrictions, the initiative asks that all dishes be labeled with all ingredients, and for Sodexo employees to be held accountable for their allergen awareness training and eliminate cross-contamination in cooking stations.

It also requests more varied vegan and gluten-free options in all dining facilities, and to add what the initiative calls “half-kosher” options, which it defines as kosher food prepared on the same surface and served on the same plates as non-kosher food.

The plan asks that employees wear gloves and hairnets at all times, and that the college and Sodexo actively try to eliminate insects and rodents; clean all dishes, glasses, and silverware completely; and cook food fully. 

In the initiative, SGA said it would also like to see more variety in the food served, especially healthy options that are fresh, and not fried.