Sodexo revises dining options
Since coming back to campus, students have noticed many changes to the University’s dining services, including changes in meal plans and how they can be used.
The current policy is that any meal swipe can be used at Usdan Café, Sherman Dining Hall and in exchange forfor three items at the Hoot Market—which must include a sandwich or salad, chips and a drink, explained Executive Director of the Student Union David Heaton ’17 in an interview with the Justice. All other dining locations on campus only take dining points, said Heaton.
He explained that many students have been upset with the various changes to the dining on campus but that the Student Union is working closely with Sodexo and the University administration to address some of these complaints immediately.
The Student Union Dining Committee has scheduled bi-monthly meetings with the administration and Shawn Monaghan, the general manager of Sodexo at Brandeis, in the hopes of creating dining options that meet students’ needs and wants.
Heaton explained that he believes that miscommunication was the main issue in creating the new meal plans. According to him, the Union was shown a set of meal plan options at the beginning of last school year that were fairly close to what they wanted, involving block meal plans for which people were allotted a certain number of meals per semester along with limited points.
However, he said, the final meal plan options they were shown in the Spring were entirely different from what they had seen before, and Sodexo officials told them that it was too late to change them.
“Basically the problem is that the current meal structure was not agreed upon by the student body; it was done basically behind closed doors, and we had no involvement with it,” Heaton told the Justice.
One concern many students have expressed is that there are no to-go boxes available in Usdan Café, but Student Union Secretary Charlotte Franco ’15 said in an interview with the Justice that reusable containers should be available within the next few weeks.
Another issue that students have brought up is the lack of meal equivalencies in dining locations other than Usdan Café and Sherman Dining Hall.
Katie Blocklove ’16, posted on the Brandeis University Senate Dining Committee Facebook page, writing that she is “astonished that Upper Usdan was made points only. I’d really like to know the rationale for that as no solid reason could be made for restricting sushi to points-only last year. And despite that being a huge complaint, even more food options were made points-exclusive?”
In the past, meals were valued at a certain dollar amount and could be used at other dining locations for that dollar amount of food. Last year sushi was changed so it could only be bought with points, and this year all dining locations other than Usdan Café and Sherman Dining Hall were changed so meals could not be used this way.
Franco admitted to flaws in the system, but said, “I think it is important for students to know that we have a very close relationship with Sodexo, we have been working with them throughout this process. We are going to be continuing to work with them, especially with all these new adjustments. We know it’s a culture shock, and everything is new and different.”
She added that it is important for students not to panic and if they have constructive criticism, the dining committee is open to hearing it in a calm and respectful manner to help them make effective changes.
Heaton said that his priorities for immediate fixes are to eliminate meal periods and to allow meals to roll over from week to week, which he anticipates working on throughout the semester at the bi-monthly meetings. “We just want to be sure that students have as much flexibility as possible,” he said.
Franco said that she looks forward to dealing with minor fixes in Usdan Café, such as adding to-go boxes and updating The Stein to give it a sports bar atmosphere with Brandeis sports memorabilia.
Heaton said that though he believes the situation was largely an issue of miscommunication, he believes that changes need to be made and student needs must be addressed. “Students are not happy about this, and they will take action if their needs are not met,” he said.