Sodexo plays hungry students like Monopoly

By Alejandra Arana |Staff Writer|

Be honest, you are tired of overpaying for the same food every day here on campus like I am.
In fact, Sodexo’s less-than-healthy, underwhelming food is only the start of it. It’s the company’s stranglehold on campus eateries that really shows where its values are.
Sodexo is a Maryland-based food service company catering to large institutions like our very own CSUSB.
I understand that they are a business, and businesses exist to make money, but it’s the way that Sodexo just assumes and banks on students (anyone on campus for that matter) just too busy to realize that there is a real life monopoly on campus.
Ask yourself, how many times have you overpaid for something to eat on campus just because it was all that was there? Now subtract the Sodexo price from a reasonable price you would expect to pay anywhere else for a similar item, and think about how much money that adds up to after four or five years.
That is how much extra money Sodexo pockets off of each student and person that eats on campus.
A vast variety of independent restaurants need to be allowed on campus to make the food market at CSUSB competitive. You don’t need to be an economics major to know that the more diverse the market is, the more prices will be forced to be kept down. One other way Sodexo takes advantage of students is with their ever popular meal plans.
My freshman year I had the meal plan that allowed me to dine on campus all day, everyday. There were limited options available however, especially on the weekends.
After my third week here I was tired of Taco Bell, WOW and Subversions. If you didn’t already know, Sodexo runs every one of them.
If that wasn’t bad enough, many people have found out the hard way, meal plans are non-refundable. Once in Sodexo’s pocket, always in Sodexo’s pocket.
“I get tired of eating here. I hate the meal plan because there isn’t enough variation in the menus. I feel it’s a waste of my money to even have the meal plan because I go out a lot to get cheaper meals,” said a student that wished to remain anonymous.
According to a document by the Dinning and Food Service Committee available on CSUSB’s website, Sodexo is in contract until 2013 which means that we are stuck with the same food until then.
I definitely do not want CSUSB to renew its contract with Sodexo, the same company that also is one of the nation’s largest food providers for the nation’s prison system, according to the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me.”
My advice to CSUSB is to give free-market enterprise a chance, it will work out for students in the end. It will also bring something more diverse, and quite possibly even home-made to eat on campus.
Sodexo tries to make modifications with the menu every now and then by providing special deals but it isn’t enough to make me want to eat on campus.
I remember in Spring 2011 Subversions had $5 Footlong Friday’s. The line was longer than normal and many students took advantage of this deal.
There was also a punch card that offered you a free sub after buying 10. The card did not cost anything and it was a great way to keep students coming back.It was a good gesture Sodexo, I’ll give you that.
However, if Sodexo was truly serious about being in the student’s best interest, or acting like they cared if customers came back, they’d go out and obtain more franchises that would give our palettes something to ponder.
When you run everything on campus, customer service and true variety fall by the wayside because at the end of the day you still control everything. The school would be doing us a great service by not renewing its contract with Sodexo.

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