After months of debates, protests and heightened tensions, SUNY New Paltz now knows who their food service provider will be for the next five years.
A second round of voting at Wednesday’s Campus Auxiliary Service (CAS) Board meeting led to the 10 members of the board voting to renew their ongoing partnership with Sodexo by a tally of six votes to four.
While we at The New Paltz Oracle are happy this ongoing saga of push-and-pull over the food service provider can be put behind us, we also recognize – and agree with – those who believe this is only the beginning of a new and more comprehensive relationship with our incumbent contractor.
Choosing the same provider after all the hustle and bustle feels a little anticlimactic, and with all of the incredibly thought-out and important stipulations our student representatives have fought for throughout the drafting of the Request For Proposal and in the actual interviews themselves, we can’t help but be skeptical in going with the status quo.
However, when looking at the other options available to the New Paltz campus – Aramark and Chartwells – we understand the reluctant support the student activists threw behind Sodexo. All three companies are not going to bring anything overwhelmingly different to the table, but at least Sodexo has been making strides to meet some student demands over the last few months.
While their unusual interest in our desires has been a welcomed change, we can’t help but wonder about the timing these changes had and the upcoming contract renewal that just occurred.
That being said, defaulting on the status quo does offer some opportunities we hope can be realized.
Sodexo recently negotiated with the food service workers on campus, giving employees a contract that they are satisfied with. If Aramark or Chartwells had been chosen by the CAS Board, there was no assurance this new contract would be adhered to. We applaud the foresight of the board members who took this into account when casting their votes.
Also, Sodexo’s willingness to be compliant with student’s desires to become part of the Real Food Challenge, a program which measures the amount of local and sustainable food that is on campus, also seems to be a step toward the changes our campus called for in early surveys.
If these two stipulations are met, perhaps a path toward the food quality we as a campus desire can be attained. When weighing the possibility of trying to restart some of the strides made in the last few months against hoping for something new with a different company, it makes sense for us as a community to take the first option.
We have diligent and dedicated student representatives on the sub-committee that will be drafting the final contract that will be sent to Sodexo, ensuring the student body that their voices will be heard when pen comes to paper.
Over the next five years, we hope the passion exhibited throughout this ordeal can be carried on. The only way all of the excellent goals our student leaders have for the quality of food on our campus can be achieved if they continually have informed and passionate people advocating for them. If not, our campus will remain hungry for years to come.