Campus food leaves many students hungry

ARAMARK, the food service provider that replaced University Dining Services, has been serving our campus for a little more than a year. When the University was considering prospective food service providers, ARAMARK stated its goal was to eliminate the UDS liability, while making a profit and serving students. At the time, then-Minnesota Student Association President Jigar Madia said, “I think that (ARAMARK’s takeover) is an excellent victory for students. Students stand to gain quite a bit from the ARAMARK deal.” ARAMARK succeeded in making a profit of $2 million last year, but has not demonstrated dedication to the students. In the company’s pursuit of a buck, it has forgotten the students.
The food offered by ARAMARK at Coffman Memorial Union and The St. Paul Student Center costs a small fortune. A price comparison conducted around campus demonstrates that while the Stadium Village Burger King sells a burger for $.89, ARAMARK charges $3. At Coffman students can buy a sandwich for $3.99, but why should they pay that when Taste of Manhattan in Stadium Village offers a sandwich for $3 cheaper?
In the dorms students have pre-paid meal plans that do not leave them many options come meal time. Because the selection offered by ARAMARK lacks diversity, many students have to rely on cereal for every meal. Part of this problem comes from a lack of communication between the management and the employees of ARAMARK. Often employees are forced to make do with supplies on hand because they do not have the materials necessary to follow the menu. Renee Taylor, an ARAMARK employee working at Pioneer Hall says, “We are told to improvise a lot on recipes, but certain things just don’t taste as good without the right stuff.” Students who are paying for this food should not be getting second rate meals.
Digging deeper into the food service dilemma is ARAMARK’s food supplier, SYSCO. When the University changed from UDS to ARAMARK, the food supplier also changed. “The majority of the food from SYSCO is lower quality,” says Taylor.
Another large problem for ARAMARK is sanitation, especially in the dorms, where a large fruit fly problem persisted for nearly two quarters. At one point over spring break, ARAMARK employees were told that bugs had been sprayed for. When the problem did not seem to go away, University health inspector Ken Reiss was called in and had someone take care of the bugs. This was a serious problem that should have been taken care of immediately. Moreover, many times supposedly clean silverware and dishes still have had food on them. Clean utensils and dishes should be a given at meal time. This sort of problem should not be happening at a university where many people depend on quality food service.
ARAMARK offers low quality food at a high price. Congratulations on making such a nice profit. Now when are you going to begin thinking about the people you should be serving, students and staff? There are other places on and around campus where students and staff could go to eat and as a matter of fact, many people do because they are looking for quality food that ARAMARK is not offering. ARAMARK needs to start serving students like it promised last year.