Reports of food poisoning and mistreatment of workers has some students vying for the termination of Sodexo’s contract with LMU. An online petition has collected over 600 signatures with hundreds of comments from students, parents, staff and faculty wanting change.
The petition, found on Change.org, states students have a “right to healthy and consistently edible food.” The petition also questions LMU’s Jesuit model of cura personalis, or care for the whole person, by denying students from accessing comestible meals.
Freshman English major Katie Schembri created the petition. As the RHA president of Del Rey North Hall, she felt compelled as a leader to do something so students can voice their opinions on dining services because it affects them directly.
“I had a duty to get answers and make sure student input was being taken into account,” said Schembri. “This petition isn’t saying that LMU students don’t want Sodexo, rather, this petition is saying that a contract should not be drafted until these concerns are considered and included in the new contract.”
With a $200 increase in meal plans, students are displeased with Sodexo’s lack of transparency in the way they communicate their decisions and reports. Concerns and questions have been arising regarding the reasons for the increase in cost, where Sodexo gets their produce and ingredients and if their employees are properly trained to meet health protocols.
Freshman theatere arts and dance double major Tatum Moore, who signed the petition said, “I would rather not be concerned that my chicken isn’t cooked or is unsafely prepared … If there is a student with a dietary restriction who gets sick from the way the Sodexo employees handle the food, there could be a major lawsuit on their hands.”
In response to the petition, Jason Adams, Sodexo’s District Manager, explained that he feels it is important for students to provide feedback, however, he disagrees with the petition.
“Sodexo is aware of the Change.org petition regarding our contract with Loyola Marymount University, but we certainly don’t agree with the way it characterizes our partnership or the positive impact we’ve had on campus,” Adams said. “Sodexo is proud of our 40-year partnership with LMU and the high level of service we bring to campus. We serve delicious and nutritious meals that reflect new culinary trends and thestudent body’s desire to have a broad selection of dining options that is at once both comforting and creative. We support the mission of the University by contributing to environmental and social responsibility initiatives and supporting the local community and its economy in many ways.”
Whether or not LMU or Sodexo will consider the petition is still unclear. However, it is apparent that the LMU community is urging for change in the way the University provides and handles their dining services. The petition has created dialogue about the necessity for students and employees to not only voice their opinions, but have their voices heard.
Adams explained that, Sodexo hopes to work with the students in the future to resolve these types of complaints.
“I truly feel that by collaborating closely with students we can continue to make LMU Hospitality a nationally-recognized dining program,” Adams said.