What’s the deal with Sodexo?

Camille Botello, Staff Writer

In light of a recent article released by the University of New Haven’s school newspaper, many Linfield students are concerned about Sodexo, the food company that supplies Dillin Hall.

The Charger Bulletin’s story made many stabs at Sodexo, stating that “revamped recipes are really just food from the previous day in a different sauce” and that “the food may sound healthy, but it is heavily processed and high in carbohydrates, fat, and chemicals.” The article also revisited a Sodexo scandal in Britain in 2013, in which “products were recalled due to the discovery of horse DNA in a sample of the beef.”

Bill Masullo said he has been at Linfield for 10 years, and is now Dillin’s general manager. Although he wanted to be a medical examiner out of high school, he promptly got a job at a college dining hall and has been in the business ever since. Sandra Curtiss, another manager at Dillin, has been at Linfield for just one year but has 20 years of experience in the food service industry. Her biggest goal is to “make sure everyone has a good dining experience.”

In response to the New Haven story circulating, Masullo said “I can’t tell you about the program there,” emphasizing the school is nearly 3000 miles away from Linfield. Curtiss stated that the article “cherry picked the bad things” about Sodexo, and didn’t even mention any of the company’s positive attributes.

A lot of the food in Dillin is actually organic and homemade, although much of the food is seasonal, Curtiss said. “We try to source local produce whenever we can.” She also said a lot of the whole fruits and muscle meats are organically grown. 

Some leftover chicken and beef, however, is recycled and made into soup the following day.

Masullo also took pride in Dillin’s sustainability efforts. The estimated 400 pounds of wasted food per day used to go in the trash, but now Dillin gives it to local pig farms. “We’re going to feed the pigs and then eat the pigs,” which Masullo pointed out is actually a sustainable cycle.

When asked about student concerns about the food served at Dillin, Masullo drew an analogy. If someone ate at their favorite restaurant for every meal for nine months, it probably wouldn’t be their favorite restaurant anymore.

“My diet affects the way I feel drastically. I’ve been raised to eat clean, simple foods that are easily homemade. I wish that Dillin would do simple fresh foods that I knew wouldn’t make me feel sick. Attempting to make fancy dishes or offering different foods from around the world doesn’t always mean that it’s healthier or fresher,” one Linfield freshman said.

“Some options I appreciate at Dillin are the salad bar and deli bar. These are good options to fall back on,” another student said, but also stated that “the fact that a majority of the students at this school rely on cereal and toast for most of their meals” is really unfortunate.

“For me, having a gluten free diet can sometimes be hard. I would benefit more cooking for myself because of the cross contamination. I wish I could get off the meal plan so that I could ensure that everything prepared was gluten free. I wish there was an alternative to the meal plan for students who aren’t upperclassmen, because even on the lowest meal plan I don’t utilize all of my flex dollars and they tend to go to waste at the end of the year, and they don’t roll over year to year, so I feel like I’m wasting money on a meal plan.”

There have been some cases in which pizza pans that are contaminated with gluten are also used for personal gluten free pizzas, which could cause students with gluten intolerances to have allergic reactions or even feel nauseated.

Masullo and Curtiss both reiterated that student engagement is imperative. Without feedback or questions, nothing will change. The Bite app that has Dillin’s daily menu on it also has an anonymous feedback feature that students are encouraged to use. Not only that, but students are more than welcome to take a tour of the kitchen to see exactly how and where their food is being kept. “I’d encourage students to be advocates for themselves,” Curtiss concluded.