New Food Service, Tough to Swallow?

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
By: Jimmy Lovrien  - Student Journalist -

And by Jacab Gallagher

Beginning in fall 2014, the College of St. Scholastica will outsource its food service to Aramark Higher Education, ending the Duluth campus's existing private self-operation.

The announcement of a new food service spiked concern on the Innovation Incubator, a discussion forum open to community members to voice their concerns.

Administrators quickly responded to the concerns on the Incubator, but uneasiness of the new food service still remains.
"After being in Senate and in leadership, I know that people hate change," said Connor Blacksher, former CSS senate president, as he addressed the recent concerns in an interview, "The food service employees are more than entitled to ask questions of Aramark, and there will be [Aramark] staff on campus quite frequently over the upcoming months."

With the switch to Aramark, current CSS food service employees will no longer be paid by the college. However, according to Steve Lyons, Vice President for Student Affairs, "Every current employee will be offered a position with Aramark, at CSS. Of course they have the choice of whether to stay or not. They will be offered their current rate of pay, and the same or more hours than they currently work. This will be sustained over time...The college currently provided tuition remission benefits for these employees and/or dependents, and that will continue for these employees as well."

Jean Anderson, Food Service Director, declined to be interviewed regarding the changes and the staff's feelings.

In an e-mail interview last Friday, Steve Lyons stated "Costs will be the same as they currently pay," implying that current meal plan rates would not increase.

Key changes include longer and more constant hours of each dining facility.

GDR is set to open at 7 AM and remain open through 7:30 PM; additionally, Storm's Den will open at 7 AM and remain open until 10 PM, with hours extending until midnight on the weekends, according to Lyons.
Renovations to the existing facilities are expected as well.

Aramark has been criticized in the past. According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Correctional Organization has been urging their Civil Service Commission to reject a $145,000,000 contract due to concerns with the company. Michigan Correctional Organization has already fined Aramark $98,000 for contract breaches, which include 36 violations with employees not cleared to work in the jails (meaning they had criminal backgrounds) and frequent menu substitutions, or false claims made on menus. Another complaint made by the correctional facilities include inadequately trained staff.

Michigan isn't the only state that has issues with the services provided by Aramark. Correctional Centers in Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and Kentucky have all filed a variety of complaints including "skimping" on meals, as stated in the Lansing State Journal. On the other hand, CSS might not see these incidences happen. After all, we aren't a prison.

Even at a school level, some argue food service giants reduce food quality for higher profits. A New York Times editorial entitled "How the Food Industry Eats Your Kid's Lunch", describes "an increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals."

Lyons addressed the corporate concerns that many have expressed and insisted that Aramark will live up to the colleges values.
"Aramark is a huge corporation, and for some this is an issue. But we have done our due diligence over the last 18 months plus; we have made taking care of our employees a priority; we have made honoring our values and traditions (community days, holiday party, etc.) a requirement. We have vetted the staff that they will bring to campus and gotten to know them."
Aramark was unable to be reached for comment.