Print Edition: July 4, 2012
There seems to be an ongoing debate between students on campus and the hand that feeds us, Sodexo. We all like to complain that their variety is lacking and their hours are inconvenient. We say we would rather put our money into the University by eating at AfterMath rather than shelling out to a multinational corporation. Somehow we believe we are sticking it to big business by buying a samosa on coveted samosa sale days.
However, it would appear that we are not as clever as we think. The Cascade did some digging to see what the real story is behind how food operations work on campus and found that so long as we are eating, we are benefitting the school or some group within it. Douglas Fowler, Sodexo GM at UFV, confirmed that the University does see a percentage of food sales from the three campus eateries: Cascade Cafe, Tim Hortons and Road Runner. I feel a bit better knowing that.
But then there is the question of student groups being allowed to fundraise by selling food on campus. There is a general assumption that we don’t see this more often because Sodexo has the monopoly on food, and they simply won’t allow it. That reasoning seems logical enough; if students are buying from fundraisers, they’re not buying from Sodexo.
Fowler enlightened us to Sodexo’s real opinion on student fundraisers. “Generally when they’re good causes, we don’t have any issues with that at all,” he said. He specified that they have to go through him, but noted that if it’s a good cause they will even sponsor sometimes, like they did with the Pink Ribbon days in February. That certainly sounds like a student-first attitude.
Personally, the thing that really makes me shy away from Sodexo offerings is the food itself. I just can’t commit to a plate of pasta or a burger right before a four-hour lecture. The carbo crash would be horrendous. I have tried to order those delicious salad rolls from the Marche Frais station on more than one occasion, only to have it closed. It seems that I need to tell my stomach to be hungry when Sodexo says I should be.
However, perusing through the Sodexo menu—available through the UFV website—sheds a different light on this. It shows 12 different stations available at the cafe, each with their own selection of offerings. That’s 12 different menus; Sevenoaks mall doesn’t even have that big of a food court. The hours for all the stations vary, with everything being open between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but overall food is widely available between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and the grill and fruit stations have even better hours.
Fowler is very positive about the great new variety coming to UFV in September, including an increased focus on sustainable certified foods and balanced meals for students to choose from. So while the curly fries may have been the best option in the past, Sodexo is making big moves to give us what we want to eat, when we are most likely to want it.
There has always seemed to be a great divide among perspectives surrounding food on campus. The spotlight is often pointed in Sodexo’s direction as the ones preventing groups from holding food fundraisers, as the people sucking up money that should be going back into the school from food sales, as the heartless multinational company that doesn’t care about what they offer us or when they offer it.
The truth, however, is quite the opposite. Everyone that The Cascade spoke with agreed that the relationship between UFV and Sodexo is cordial. Fowler explained that for two years there has been a lot of “red ink” within the budget, and yet they’ve avoided increasing the prices during that time. He stressed that they want to be “within the fabric” of UFV and that the employees “love what they do.” For a company that’s losing money, they are still making improvements to their menus and services, they’re still moving forward despite the “red ink.”
Sodexo works with the University—not against it—to provide students with the best, safest and cheapest food possible.