The Daily Gamecock

Column: Sodexo can, should improve


The low quality of our campus food service, Sodexo, can be attributed to the food's lack of flavor, repetition and subpar ingredients. Many students complain of getting tired of campus food after short durations of eating there and often turn to off-campus restaurants even if they cost more.

The food's lack of flavor can be attributed to Sodexo's inherent fear of spices and herbs. In an attempt to not offend anyone's taste buds, the food service company appears to leave out flavor completely, offending almost everyone's taste buds except those who consume calories for utility only.

Repetition is rampant throughout campus Sodexo facilities. This might be expected for a managed service, but when the repetitious ingredients and recipes that are used to create food are terrible, it becomes a problem. Sodexo can be tolerated for an occasional quick and convenient meal, but one can only suffer from the lack of flavor and quality for so many meals without yearning for another option.

Another major reason that Sodexo carries with it a negative connotation is its lack of quality ingredients. To its credit, Sodexo already uses some local food. But it could still do more. 

The Sodexo service for Western Washington University (and maybe Sodexo for USC) uses one ingredient many students might not have even heard of: Phase. According to an article published in The Western Front, Phase is "a liquid, hydrogenated soybean oil, [used] in dining halls to reduce scorching and burning of grilled food."

Even if students have heard of this product, they might not know that Phase is used on veggies and even scrambled eggs. Based on the recipe measurements provided by Ira Simon, Director of University Dining Services at Western Washington University, one cup of vegetables could contain about one-tenth of a tablespoon of Phase. That's a lot of unknown calories added to a usually healthy food group.

Even though this hasn't been researched for USC, the probability is high that such an organized, widely used food service would use the same recipes.

In light of the obvious poor quality of Sodexo food, our campus needs a solution. One solution integrates Sustainable Carolina, a campus organization promoting creating a sustainable way of living, is already somewhat in motion.

This plan involves growing food in the campus gardens using a hydroponic system, which makes growing plants extremely efficient. These vegetables would then be sold to Sodexo, which could serve the veggies fresh to students, offering nutritious options on campus. As a student body, we should encourage this idea if we want quality food to be available through Sodexo.

A plan that would further provide students with quality foods would be for USC to finance and promote students cultivating their own gardens. There are already spots students can buy for themselves in the garden, but if there were more plots available, and they were offered free, students would be more likely to use them.

Another option to improve Sodexo would be to allow students to offer their own recipes for Sodexo to put on its menu and have other students vote on which foods should be provided. This would be a good way to involve students in their food selection while also providing specific quality ingredients in the recipes that Sodexo should use.

Almost all students acknowledge that Sodexo food is subpar. If students agree with any of the above solutions, or have a solution of their own, they should at least actually take the survey sent out by USC about campus food services (yes, even if it's long) and fill in the "additional comments" section. Students should react to make a difference and see a change in Sodexo food options.