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University to consider other dining vendors

Stewart Uretsky announced that the university’s contract with Sodexo will end in 2020, and the school is currently developing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the dining services program. 

This announcement came after months of reported issues between the university and Sodexo. 

According to a previous Brandeis Hoot article, Sodexo mislabeled foods in the dining halls that contained allergens. “A dining station in Lower Usdan displayed ‘gluten-free’ labeling while listing and serving foods that contained gluten on Nov. 8 last semester,” said the article. “A student with celiac disease—an autoimmune disease in which the gluten protein causes harm to the small intestine—became ill.” This claim was one of several brought against the vendor from students. Sodexo has since updated procedures.

According to another previous Hoot article, Sodexo workers protested their hours being cut on Oct. 1,  2018 in the Lower Usdan dining hall. “The workers were joined by some students, including those from the Brandeis Labor Coalition,” the article reported.

Uretsky said that the RFP will be developed based on community conversations and consulting from the TMC Group. He said that the community’s input will be considered during the process. The review will assess Brandeis’ food services program, including the prices, hours and location, menu items and services provided, according to Uretsky.

Sodexo has recently faced many internal changes including a new CEO of Energy and Resources, Simon Seaton. The company also announced on Aug. 8 that they will introduce the Impossible Burger, a meat substitute brand, in more than 1,500 locations. The company also recorded a Return on Equity, or the amount company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business, of 16 percent for the past year, which is much higher than the average 4.4 percent average in the Hospitality Industry, according to Yahoo Finance.

“Our existing contract with Sodexo will continue through June 30, 2020, which will enable us to carefully consider what will best serve Brandeis over the years ahead and ensure that our dining program continues without disruption this academic year,” said Uretsky in the email. “We very much appreciate Sodexo’s cooperation in this process and will invite them to respond to the RFP, along with other providers who we believe can meet our needs.”

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