The Great Sodexho Stomachache

We’ve been suffering from an upset stomach here at The Signal this week as we continue to look into the policies and practices of the College’s contracted food service provider Sodexho. It’s a symptom that seems to crop up once every few months.

We first noticed it in Fall 2004 when Sodexho implemented its Carte Blanche program to an outbreak of widespread student unrest.

It came back stronger than even at the beginning of last year when the

College announced that it had extended its contract with the company – during the course of the summer, of course, while we were all on vacation – for two years without the input of the Student Government Association.

And now we are troubled by the imprecise nature of Sodexho’s nutritional information, information that informs us that for every six ounce serving of Sodexho macaroni and cheese we eat, we are also ingesting 30 grams of fat and 510 calories.

Oh, and here’s so more food for thought: there are 28.3 grams in an ounce. So each six-ounce serving of that sweet mac is about a sixth fat.

But this isn’t a problem for good ole’ Sodexho, because they don’t have

to comply with nutritional guidelines maintained by the Food and Drug Administration. Its guidelines are internally created and monitored by the College’s own office of Auxiliary Services, an office that, according to our research, does not employ any dietitians or nutritionists.

In fact, in order to determine the nutritional equivalencies between Sodexho food and fast food, we had to convert 2.6 ounces of Sodexho fries to three ounces of McDonald’s fries.

Our intention in covering a story about Sodexho was not to sensationalize or demonize. However, the company does not seem willing to recognize the grave disservice it is doing to the campus by not explaining how it determines its food’s nutritional value.

Shortly after we began investigating the story, nutritional information cards in Eickhoff Dining Hall were taken down and some doors to the kitchens, which are normally left open, were closed.

Any attempts we made to get certainly information from the College and Sodexho – for example the contract between the two parties – were rebuked, and on the occasions when information was made available to us, the responses we received were dodgy and vague at best.

What we aimed for in published this story was not scandal, but truth. And truth, though our story managed only to show part of a larger still-veiled whole, seems to be something that Sodexho is unwilling to face.

So thank you, Sodexho, for causing yet another upset stomach on this campus.