Working the Uniform: Being a Sodexo Employee

While a typical day for a student at SUNY New Paltz consists of going to class, doing homework and spending time with friends, other students within the community have a tougher schedule: serving the student body at the College’s various food locations. For instance, The Roost at Ridgeview, Element 93, the Student Union Building (SUB) and Hasbrouck Dining Hall as well as places to purchase coffee and small baked goods, such as Starbucks and Truth Cafe. 

During this fall semester, it has become apparent that more students are taking on the task of being part of the Sodexo community, the food service provider of the College, such as second-year creative writing major Sophie Field. 

Field has been a Sodexo employee since January and can be found working at Element 93 or the Truth Cafe, working a total of about 12 to 15 hours a week.  

As for the application process, Field said that getting the job was “very easy” and that she applied at a time when managers were looking for part-time student workers, 

“I wasn’t even interviewed,” she said. “[The manager] immediately scheduled an orientation session and paper work was done right away.” 

The balance between school and work is not a difficult one to manage, according to Field. Managers ask for the student’s class schedule and create a work schedule from there. At the end of the day, school is still the main priority, but since Field pays for most her off campus expenses, she sometimes wishes more hours were available to student workers. 

In order to become part of the Sodexo community, it is best to have prior experience working with food, explained Alton Campbell, resident dining manager at Hasbrouck Dining Hall.

“Safety control, basic safety regulations, the difference between ready-to-eat and raw foods, all these things can be trained” Campbell said. “But if you have this kind of prior food service experience, then you’ll have a higher chance.”

As for serving other students, Field explained that the student body is generally amicable, but that during times of high volume, “some people are very rude, a lot of people feel like they don’t have time and want to get their food as soon as possible.” 

“[Student workers] are not in positions of power,” she said. “If students complain about something, it’s usually about something that the workers don’t have control over like a backed up kitchen or hectic, with a line out the door. 

“Working within a corporate structure, students are at the end of the hierarchy, most decisions are made by higher ups, people that [the workers] don’t even work with, which could be stressful,” Field said. 

With the constantly evolving campus dining options, Field believes that the campus should invest in more food options, especially food with more nutritional value since students tend to pay a lot of money for their meal plan. 

“I am lucky to work at Element 93 though,” Field said. “The food is freshly prepared and I generally enjoy my job on campus.”