Sodexo to taste new food options, looks for student feedback

by Temesha Derby, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — After a full semester in which Simpson’s dining services provider, Sodexo, has been implemented, food service officials are taking students’ feedback into account for better food quality options.

Sodexo brings a positive change to dining options and quality, Dean of Students Luke Behaunek said, adding that student surveys indicate the quality of service has improved in every measure.

“It’s important to educate students on how we do things and why we’re implementing changes,” said Mindy Murphy, general dining manager for Sodexo, who recognizes that there are always transitions involved and that it takes an adjustment period to get used to a new plan.

Murphy and Behaunek said there are no definitive plans to change Red Mango and Au Bon Pain.

“We’re talking with the food committee about options,” Murphy said. “We sent out different surveys to take student feedback into account to see what other options we can take a look at.”

If plans were to change, Sodexo would evaluate some internal options and try to mirror the current options, Behaunek said.

There may be more flexible options with the same needs being met on campus, depending on what the students want.

“We’re hoping for more answers by the end of semester,” Behaunek said.

There are no plans beyond the five different dining venues.

“We have very robust options for a campus our size,” Behaunek added.

The goals for the upcoming semester include the evaluation of the current venues and overall improvement of these venues.

“Next year, we will expand our dining services by bits and pieces,” Murphy said.

Most students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan, aside from students with medical reasons, in Greek Life, student teaching or case-by-case situations.

Ally Goins, a senior living in an apartment, said she wishes that she could opt out of the meal plan altogether.

“We have kitchens to cook, so that would just be cheaper for me,” she said. Goins, a senior, works a busy schedule with a full class load and an internship.

“I petitioned to opt out of the meal plan, but it got denied. I would save money, being that I don’t have time to use my plan anyway,” Goins said.

Behaunek mentioned the contract they have with Sodexo requires that students living in apartments and dorms have a meal plan. “We wanted the students to feel like they are still part of the Simpson community,” he said.

One of Murphy’s goals for the year is hosting elite events, which are derived from the idea of pop-up restaurants. She wants to try and host an event each month.

With the elite events, students can use boards, flex, cash or a debit/credit card. The events are more of a mainstream idea and take a while to figure out, Murphy said.

Sodexo held the Wicked Wings Super Bowl Event on Sunday and sold 50 cent wings in Tyler’s Grille.

“We encourage anyone with questions or feedback to talk to me or Mindy Murphy,” Behaunek said. “We’re interested in people’s thoughts.”