For almost 60 years, UVM has contracted the same food vendor to coordinate all of its dining needs — Sodexo.
As announced a short while ago in an email from Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs, they’ll be around for at least a little longer. The relationship between UVM and Sodexo has been nothing if not cordial. We consistently reach fair agreements with them and run into few problems.
The most glaring conflict in the past may have been with Sodexo’s proposed employee classification that would downgrade full-time workers to part-time workers, thus stripping them of benefits. Thanks to a useful clause in the agreement that requires UVM’s approval of changes to benefits and wages of Sodexo workers, our friends wearing red and white across campus continue to earn a fair wage. In order to keep those wages and benefits, it’s vital that UVM, in this current round of negotiations, insist on the continuation of this prior approval.
The University, in keeping with a green image, will be pushing for locally sourced, ecologically grown, organic, fair trade and humane food. What’s interesting is the University will be pushing for an integration with food systems. Any integration between Sodexo, a private, for-profit institution, with an academic unit in a public, non-profit university should be met with skepticism. We also won’t know what this arrangement would look like as of now, due to the ongoing (and confidential) contract negotiations.
Therefore, while the Cynic appreciates the longstanding and very amicable relations that Sodexo has had with our University, we believe that it’s necessary to recognize that there may be, in the future, issues which may unfortunately divide our interests in ways which prevent comfortable agreement.
We believe that, ultimately, Sodexo should remain UVM’s food vender, and UVM, Sodexo’s client.
Any unnecessary mingling between the two entities, which might distort the simple roles of seller and buyer, is something we should eye cautiously. In the meantime, head to Cook dining hall on Friday for hot wing night. Our perennial friends in red and white will be glad you did.