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Sodexo to become VSC’s new food service

After 20 years of service, Aramark’s food service contract with the Vermont State Colleges is expiring and the company is being replaced by Sodexo.

That means starting next fall, Castleton students will be eating food provided by a new company.

In a recent e-mail sent across campus, Dean of Administration Scott Dikeman announced that Sodexo will take over food service at Castleton and the other VSC colleges by the fall semester. Additionally, over the period of a year and a half, $1.2 million in improvements will be made to Huden Dining Hall, Fireside Café and the Coffee Cottage.

There are many options that have been proposed to improve Castleton’s dining services, but Dikeman said details of the contract with Sodexo are still being finalized.

Various possibilities, Dikeman said, include marché-style preparation in which students would see their meals prepared before them, as well as a vegetarian section and a food section catering specifically to students with gluten, nut, lactose, and other food allergies.

Dikeman added that expanding Huden’s service hours to accommodate for athletes and busy students has been proposed, as has a take-out option allowing students to take their food from the dining hall, which wasn’t allowed under Aramark.

Potential meal changes are also being designed for Coffee Cottage and Fireside Café.

Students have had mixed opinions about the switch from Aramark to Sodexo.

Jessica Goodman, a sophomore studying global studies, is happy abou the change.

“I think Aramark doesn’t really have much for what everyone on campus wants,” Goodman said. “I’m really not happy with the way it is.”

Goodman said she’s a vegetarian and that there isn’t much at all offered for people like her who shy away from meat.

Grace Herzog, a junior in theatrical design, said she never thought anything of the quality of the food and remains skeptical to the changing service.

“It’s very difficult to cook for thousands of students and make it taste good,” Herzog said. Trying to cater to everyone’s wants, she added, there are going to be people who are bound not to like something. If they really didn’t like the food, she continued, students could simply make it themselves.

Tim Donovan, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, said in a press release that the college system under Sodexo would also be utilizing locally produced food.

“Prioritizing local food is consistent with our values and our mission to work for the benefit of Vermont,” he said.  “Sodexo will be expected to prioritize locally sourced foods” in order to provide what Donovan referred to as a “farm to plate experience.”

Sodexo, Dikeman said, may also implement a department to watch over CSC’s sustainable footprint, such as cutting down on water and increasing composting.

Dikeman also mentioned that Aramark employees have been offered the chance to interview with Sodexo, adding that the company has been “very clear” to retain Aramark employees.

“We definitely want to make sure we thank Aramark and have appreciated their 20 years of service,” Dikeman said. “We will see what the next 10 years bring for our food services.”

Though the precise terms and agreements Sodexo and VSC’s contract have not been fully defined, the agreement should be finalized by next week, Dikeman said.

Aramark and Sodexo were contacted for statements but declined to comment.