Students want more dining options; Sodexo wants more students


Photo by Uday Lomada

Sodexo employees serve students in The Loft Wednesday night.

Fallon Heady, Staff Writer

The campus community wants to see more dining options on campus, but Sodexo is struggling to have enough student participation at campus dining options and enough student workers to provide more dining options. 

“It’s the same foods everyday,” said Morgan Wade, freshman psychology major. “Two of my roommates are vegetarian, and they basically eat pasta everyday. There needs to be more options for people with restricted diets.” 

Lexey Hutchcraft, freshman elementary education major, said, “I’m spending $4,000 on a meal plan that I don’t even want to use.”

“Everything that they have is very greasy,” Hutchcraft said. “Whether you go to Archie’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A or even the Loft, it messes up everyone’s stomach.”

The university used to have a variety of meal options in February 2020. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Steak ‘n Shake, Fiesta Fuego, Simply To Go and Cyclone Salad have closed. 

Rebecca Diamond, director of dining services, said the low number of students participating in campus dining and small staff are the reasons for the restaurants’ closing. Lamar Patterson, director of dining services, gave the same reasons in March 2021. 

Diamond said there are several factors that play into the decrease of students participating in campus dining options, including nationally declining college admissions and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We were already seeing declines in participation at Steak ‘n Shake and Simply To Go in the Liberal Arts building,” Diamond said. “Between food and labor costs, they just weren’t sustainable.”

“COVID, as we all know, has also dramatically affected our labor force,” Diamond said.  “We lost many employees during the shutdown and are critically low in student workers.” 

“We must get more employees hired to be able to open more dining options,” said Jennifer Hammat, the dean of students. “And like many other places, the ‘great resignation’ has hit our dining services area particularly hard.”

Hammat said she knows students are restless about the campus dining options and are wondering when Cyclone Salads and Fiesta Feugo will open back up. 

“In my conversations with Sodexo, they know students miss those options, and the last time we spoke, it is still a workforce issue,” Hammat said. 

Sodexo applications can be found on Indeed or by logging onto MyUSI, clicking on the Career Launch icon and searching Sodexo.

The Student Government Association will be holding a forum on dining options at 5 p.m. Thursday. Rebecca Diamond and Gregory Dillard, campus executive chef, will be there to answer dining questions.