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Sodexo to replace Aramark

By Nick Minarik
On April 30, 2012

  • Aramark salad during dinner at Huden Dining Hall. Wyatt Aloisio

Returning Castleton students will have a lot to look forward to in the fall 2012 semester, from the new dorm building to the change of food provider and renovations on campus. Everyone is pretty sure that New Hall will meet all expectations (judging by how quickly it filled up), but the latter is something that still garners some speculation.
After 20 years of service, Aramark is being replaced as Castleton's food service provider by Sodexo as part of a shift in the entire VSC system. UVM has already made the switch, and reception up north has been positive on the whole. There are wider varieties of food including a sushi bar, and there are also choices for those with specific dietary needs, unlike the current situation.
From the sounds of it, the improvement will be just what students are looking for.
Some, however, don't see the problem with Aramark. History professor Mike Austin took a stance against the change, saying that college students are expecting too much of dining hall food, and that Aramark has been good overall. He's been at the college for 30 years, so he's experience the entire run of Aramark's contract. Most students don't have insight that broad, so are they all wrong to be excited?
The easy answer is no. While it's true none of the students have the wider picture, the food service is here to cater to exactly those students. The students on campus pay for board and are able to use meals in only one place, so even if Aramark's tenure has been decent in the long run, it's not quite what students should get for their money. Many students (myself included) are herded into one of the same 4 choices daily, and it's hard to imagine what students with specific food allergies go through trying to eat at the dining hall.
The discontent in the student body is understandable, and while the expectations are high, it seems like Sodexo will meet them head-on. Now that the contract has been worked out in detail, it seems like the upcoming semester will see a completely new face on Huden dining hall, maybe one that won't be complained about.
One thing Aramark has been very good at is hiring pleasant individuals, and we at the Spartan hope that they can be easily transferred over to Sodexo. All the focus on the provider change could take away from their individual situations, and that's not what any of the students want. The friendly faces should stay; the food is what needs a change.

-Nick Minarik


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