Should we as students expect more from campus dining based on what we are paying for?
A common grievance among many students is about the quality of meals on campus, in particular the residential dining cafeteria. Sodexo contracts as the catering company that serves all South Dakota public colleges, a decision made by the South Dakota Board of Regents.
Oftentimes, the lines in the cafeteria wind all the way back to the register during the noon hour lunch break. Students may wait up to 15 minutes just to get their food.
Though the cafeteria had a facelift this summer with some new renovations, it did not seem to improve efficiency.
There’s also the problem of food running out or being taken away before dining hours are over.
For example, sometimes students swipe into the cafeteria 30 minutes before they finish serving breakfast, and most of the food stations are either empty or have already been replaced with lunch options. This makes it difficult for students with full schedules to find times to be able to eat in between classes.
The Everyday app is also an issue. Oftentimes the menu items listed in the app do not match what is actually being served in the cafeteria.
The app itself occasionally has bugs and sometimes does not show all the menu options for the upcoming week. However, these bugs are not a shortcoming on the part of Sodexo itself, rather, they are the fault of the app’s developer, Dynamify Limited.
It’s alarming to look at some of the nutritional facts of the food we are offered. According to nutritional facts available on the Everyday app, if you eat foods such as the California BLT Wrap from the bistro grill, you could be consuming 90% of your daily saturated fat intake and 56% of your daily sodium intake in a single serving.
However, some of the nutritional value of the food we choose is really up to us – there are healthier options such as the salad bar.
Most frustrating is the cost of campus dining. With the default meal plan, the Yote Pack 70, students are paying $1,999 for $1,109 flex dollars and 70 meal swipes.
That amounts to around $12.71 per meal swipe, which is even higher than the average cost of a meal at one of the restaurant-style dining options on campus.
All of these problems could be addressed through a few different options. First, students should decide if they want to pay for a meal plan.
Second, USD should be in charge of choosing its own catering company. There is no incentive to improve campus dining if every student living on campus is forced to buy a meal plan, with food served by a company with a contract in effect through 2027.
Ultimately, we deserve consistent and quality food every time we eat on campus.