KSU launches boycott against Sodexo

The King’s Student Union has launched a boycott against food service provider Sodexo after the departure of canteen operator Zona Roberts.
The union put out news release this morning, citing the food company’s “long-standing unwillingness of the corporation to meet customer demands”, as well as the treatment of Zona Roberts as the reasons for their
“We are sending Sodexo a message — that it has ignored student interests for too long,” said KSU president Gabe Hoogers in a statement. “Sodexo’s catering, dining, and canteen services are vitally important aspects of the campus culture at King’s College, and students’ interests need to play a part in that.” A letter was sent to the company by union, in which they asked for a resolution to the boycott as soon as possible, “pending a renewed commitment to address student concerns.”
Concerns were recently raised about Sodexo’s refusal to provide sustainable foods for the King’s community.
With such groups as the King’s Alternative Food Co-op Association K.A.F.C.A on campus willing to provide other food services to campus, Sodexo, the exclusive food provider to over 1,000 students, has been expected to change their options as well.
“The Kings’ Students’ Union is a proud advocate of sustainable and local food options, as well as increased options for students with dietary restrictions, and we have been calling on Sodexo to provide those options
for years without any adequate response,” says Hoogers.
The issues the union has had with Sodexo hit a breaking point when they learned Roberts had been offered another position than she has held at the canteen for over a decade.
Roberts has left the on-campus job, causing an uproar in the wake of her departure.
“Sodexo’s move to relocate Zona has reinforced our notion that Sodexo ignores student interests. Of course, Zona was a beloved member of the King’s community, and we know that the student experience will suffer because of her departure,” says Hoogers.
“This boycott serves to ensure that student interests are not ignored into the future. Students must be an active part of the contract renegotiations with Sodexo and be a guiding force in how food is delivered on campus,” he says.
“We feel that a boycott of the canteen is an effective way to demonstrate the importance of student consultations, as Sodexo will be able to see the direct impact the boycott is having.”
The student union has advised students to “seek alternative food options” away from Sodexo’s choices while the boycott rages on, and the KSU’s endorsement of their catering services is suspended until a resolution comes
to pass.
There are on-campus servings planned to show residence students other options, and the union is relying on word-of-mouth to get the word around about Sodexo’s practices. They will also be educating students on other food sources, making presentations, and hosting many events.
“Also, we acknowledge that many students do not have any choice but to use Sodexo’s food service as Prince Hall is the only option for residence students — that all but demonstrates that its important to challenge Sodexo
to cater to students concerns as it is so crucial to the culture of King’s,” says Hoogers.
Renegotiations are already underway for the contract between the union and Sodexo, and Hoogers hopes everything can be resolved amicably.
“I sincerely hope that our concerns can be addressed as soon as possible and that the KSU and Sodexo can work together to provide students with a food service that works for all.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

2 replies on “KSU launches boycott against Sodexo”

Sorry to hear Sodexho continues to stymie efforts to bring a diversity of food alternatives to the campus, though I can’t say I’m especially surprised. Their employment practices have historically left a lot to be desired – firing their cleaning staff every summer and re-hiring them in the fall, for example.
I’m also disappointed to learn that the company has elected to move Zona out of the DSL. I know she feels the same way about the students as they feel about her.
However, while these two matters are linked inasmuch as they both seem to indicate Sodexho’s ignorance of students’ wishes, they remain separate issues, and ought to be treated as such.
I hope a satisfactory alternative can be reached, though I suspect getting Zona back into the DSL will be easier than convincing a food service corporation with exclusive rights to allow any kind of competition.
Bonne chance!
Jon Robson – ’05

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