The Student Government Association (SGA) held an open meeting to discuss new directions for Sodexo in order to improve dining services on campus. VWC paid Sodexo $2,258,272 in the 2014-2015 fiscal year as the college’s food service provider, according to the college’s Form 990 tax document. Sodexo has been the highest-paid contractor for the college in the last few fiscal years. The meeting came after photos of the kitchen were released in the last issue of the Marlin Chronicle.
“We wanted to talk about some things that were going on recently and what Tim Lockett has been doing to get away from the bad vibes that the caf has been getting recently,” junior Michael McOsker said.
McOsker serves as the vice president of the Student Government Association.
According to Tim Lockett, the general manager of dining services, the discoloration on the equipment seen in the photos is because of normal wear and tear with some carbon buildup from everyday use.
“None of this is unsanitary or a danger to food safety,” Lockett said.
To improve on this, Lockett said in an email interview that dining services was able to have a team work on restoring life to the equipment this week, removing the carbon buildup as needed. All of the equipment was then inspected and serviced by a certified technician, ensuring that everything is in good working order.
Lockett also said that the campus will see improved dining services on campus.
“We have been working on it with the help of the company, SGA, and the college have worked together to improve dining on this campus,” Lockett said.
These changes started recently with new employees, including a new manager and a new executive chef.
“Myself and Amanda McKenna were a two-person team for awhile so now we have a new team. We have two new managers coming. Our new chef starts on March 20 and our retail and marketing manager started this week,” Lockett said.
Christine Outlaw, who is the new retail and marketing manager recently transferred from another college. She was also the catering director and sales manager for Gourmet Gang.
“She is responsible for running any special events, special meals and Chef’s Fare. So a lot of the stuff that has been missing the past semester will be back this one with her being here,” Lockett said.
David Fabrycki, who is the new executive chef, recently came to Sodexo after a contract with another company. He received his B.A. in Culinary Arts and Hospitality from Johnson and Wales University.
“The executive chef is a restaurant guy. He has worked for few New Orleans restaurants and he also travelled with another chain for awhile. This will solve some of the issues we have had with variety,” Lockett said.
Other than new management, Dining Services has also welcomed new staff members, including more students.
“We have some great new staff and students joining us not only in the Grille where you are used to seeing them, but also in Boyd Dining Center. They are helping out a lot,” Lockett said.
The campus will be seeing formerly popular foods come back as well.
Simple Servings, the station that is free of the main eight allergens and gluten free will be back after spring break, according to Lockett.
“The chef that left was trained in simple servings, and there is pretty intense training so the food will not be cross-contaminated. When the station comes back, it will stay back,” Lockett said.
Dining services is creating a new way in which students can voice their opinions about how they feel Dining Services is doing.
“One thing coming up that is new and exciting is the Culinary Council. That’s something that I think if we would have had it going, we wouldn’t need to be talking about what is going on in the caf today. It’s a group of students selected from all areas around campus and it will be rewards based participation.” Lockett said.
The students selected will be serving on the council in order to come up with ideas about how our campus dining can improve. According to Lockett, these students will be able to take suggestions from other students so that everyone’s voice is heard.
This is not the only avenue for students to let their concerns be known.
“There is no door on the kitchen and there’s a reason for that,” Lockett said. My office is there, the chef’s office is there. Feel free to look around and ask questions to one one of us.”
According to McOsker, who has been a constant contact for the Dining Services project, this was a very productive way to bring change to campus dining.
“I think that with all these things that are being implemented we are going to try to bridge the gap between the students and the caf, and try to get the communication flowing so that we all have a good understanding of what is going on in the caf and the caf knows what’s going on with us,” McOsker said.