EDITORIAL: Sodexo contract expiration leaves room for growth
In June 2020, the University’s contract with Sodexo is set to expire. In the meantime, the University will be developing a Request for Proposals, during which the University will compile a list of requests for the next contract that they make with any food vendor. Community input will be taken into account through town-hall-style forums in September and October. This board commends the University for seeking the Brandeis community’s opinions when choosing its next steps — whether it is improving our contract with Sodexo or choosing a new vendor — and has some suggestions for the University’s next contract.
Currently, any student who lives on campus is required to have a meal plan of some type, whether it be a weekly or block plan. This includes students who live in suites with their own kitchens. For example, this means that students who live in the Charles River Apartments are required to make a ten-minute walk or wait for the Bran Van just to make sure they are using the meal plan they were required to purchase. This board suggests that in the University’s next food vendor contract, a student should not be required to have a meal plan if their suite has a kitchen. In a Sept. 4 interview with the Justice, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Stew Uretsky said that the University is looking into this option, and we urge them to prioritize this in their contract negotiations.
On a similar note, this board encourages the University to consider a points-only meal plan open to all students, not just those who live off-campus. This additional option would allow students to use their money and the dining options on campus as they please. Additionally, making the commuter meal plans available to all students would increase flexibility so students can purchase only what they want to use. Another way to grant students more dining options would be for the University to reconsider what counts as a meal swipe when students are not in Sherman or Lower Usdan. Implementing a meal swipe option at Currito and including protein in meal-swipe salads from Sub Connection would give students more options for using their meal swipes.
For Brandeis in particular, kosher dining is and will continue to be a large part of student life on campus. For students who maintain kosher diets — a sizable portion of the school’s population — a number of additional restrictions must be taken into account to provide students with an acceptable quality and variety of meals. Increasing the vegetarian options on meat days is one easy way to improve Kosher dining. This board encourages the University to keep this in mind during the selection process; choosing a vendor with experience serving a range of Kosher food will ensure high-quality dining for a significant portion of the student population. As the University researches vendors and explores options for how they might improve their partnership with Sodexo, this board encourages the University to continue to be transparent in the process and actively reach out to the community for suggestions.