Sodexo to serve up scholarships for student workers


Mindy Murphy

by Randy Paulson, Senior Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Sodexo dining services will begin offering four $1,000 scholarships for eligible student workers, starting later this academic year. The scholarships are part of Sodexo’s strategy to encourage and reward dining service workers.

According to Mindy Murphy, general manager of Sodexo, eight student workers were employed at the two dining venues last year, while her goal was to have 20 student workers.

“The problem is, a lot of times in food service, last year it was feeling like we were constantly understaffed, we kept trying to fill this hole, that hole,” Murphy said.

Simpson dining services has two kinds of workers: standard hourly workers and student workers. When hiring new employees, Murphy said she, “can’t hire hourly people that are wanting to do short shifts, or you know, a little bit here and there.” Therefore, the lack of student workers, “really made quite a few challenges.”

In addition to offering the scholarship, Murphy said Sodexo increased workers’ hourly wages from $7.25 to $9 and will give a 25 cent raise to students who return to work for another year.

“Our students do a lot of hard work, and they’re … a key part of our workforce actually, so I mean, it’s just a little way to help give back to them, too,” Murphy said.

To sophomore Linda Ramseur, a returning Sodexo worker, learning about the scholarship and pay raise was welcomed news.

“For people who work hard, in terms of getting paid minimum wage, it’s kind of hard to support yourself in college, so I think this gives an extra emphasis to stay in college and work through hard times,” Ramseur said. “It lets me get ahead, especially for a student like me who’s paying their tuition on their own. It really helps.”

She said the wage increase in particular will help her pay off tuition faster than would have been possible with the minimum wage. If she receives the scholarship, Ramseur said it would relieve her financial stress, and she “would look at it as like a blessing.”

Originally, Murphy had envisioned a scholarship similar to how Graceland University rewards their student workforce: offering students half-priced meal plans in exchange for their work. However, after consulting with Simpson’s financial aid, Murphy said such a plan would affect student’s financial aid packages. Thus, the idea for a scholarship took hold instead.

Sodexo will offer the four scholarships to its student workers each semester, but there are eligibility restrictions, according to Murphy. For example, students must work at least eight hours per week. They must also have a good attendance record, communicate well with their supervisors about scheduling conflicts and consistently show up on time ready to work.

After the scholarship deadline, which is to be set for around Thanksgiving, Murphy said she and the other managers will go through the applications and decide on who the four recipients will be for Spring 2018.

Senior Grant Colter, who has worked for Simpson dining services since his freshman year, wished such scholarships would have been offered sooner during his time at Simpson. He will now only have the opportunity to apply for the scholarship one time.

“I’ve put a lot of time into working there, so it would feel nice to get something back and feel like I’m appreciated for doing my job,” he said.

Since students working for food service do not usually have free time to do homework during their shifts, Colter said his work-study position differs from other types of work-study jobs on campus.

“It eats up a lot of your time and makes it harder to do school and that at the same time,” Colter said. “So, I feel like there should be a little bit of an extra reward.”

Although the scholarship program is still fairly new, Murphy said it could be one of the reasons why more students have shown interest in food service jobs this year.

“We do still have shifts available, so we still got a little bit of work to do, but we’re in a much better position than we were last year, as far as student workforce,” Murphy said.