Benjamin Nielsen takes over as general manager for Sodexo


Caleb Geer

Ben Nielsen has worked for Sodexo at Simpson College the last two years before recently being named to become general manager.

by Caleb Geer, Copy Editor

Sodexo’s general manager position at Simpson College is witnessing a changing of the guard this year. On April 23, Benjamin Nielsen will officially take over the position.

Nielsen will be taking the position after Julia Neer, the previous general manager for Sodexo at Simpson, resigned to accept another Sodexo position at the University of South Dakota. Neer is under contract through April 22 and is assisting in the transition of the position to Nielsen, but Nielsen is already managing the day-to-day operations on campus.

Nielsen admitted he was a bit nervous coming into the position but said he is definitely excited. 

“It’s a little nerve-racking. It’s my first general manager position with the company, so I’m just trying to get my head around it right now,” he said.

Nielsen previously served two years for Sodexo at Simpson as director of conferences and events and catering. He said his old position is not yet filled as he prepares to fully assume the role of general manager.

Fortunately, Nielsen will be able to pick some of the managerial staff around him as other positions are hired for. Both a full-time chef and retail manager will be starting soon on campus as well.

Looking forward to what he can do with his new position, Nielsen plans to make Pfeiffer Dining Hall a more appealing place to eat. Adjustments to the interior of the building would be at the top of his list. Painting the entry hallway and inside the dining hall itself, as well as removing outdated pictures from the walls and adjusting furniture, are all jobs Nielsen hopes to achieve in the coming months.

Allowing Greek Life to help paint some of the dining hall is a focal point of this plan. His goal is that it would be accomplished during the Greek Work Week.

Greek Work Week occurs the week before the first week of classes in the fall.

Nielsen believes this plan could not only bring the campus together but also bring Pfeiffer together.

“It’s [Pfeiffer] institutionalized. We can present all the food we want in there and make the food look good, but the rest of it is just uncomfortable sometimes,” he said.

On the topic of the food itself, Nielsen wants to change some of the surrounding cultures and get people more excited to eat healthier food.

“We focus a lot on athletics here on this campus, and most students are involved in athletics. Focusing on leaner meats and less fats is a thing going on this year,” he said.

Building a relationship between students and food service is something Nielsen is especially looking forward to. Getting the foodservice venues to a more comfortable staffing level while filling some other positions will be key, he said.

“I think that’s what I’m most excited about is just creating more of that friendly, family-style atmosphere between food service and students,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen noted that connection building can be done in many ways through food. Connections with student groups and local community groups is something he has his eyes on.

Student feedback is something Nielsen is looking for in Sodexo’s relationship with campus. Student food council, biannual surveys and comment cards are three ways he said students can get involved. Comment cards are available at every food service location on campus.

Even if a student only wants to see a certain item available at the c-store, Nielsen wants to know.

“It’s the little things. You can’t be afraid to ask,” he said.

With his new position as general manager, Nielsen wants to maintain and improve the quality partnership Sodexo has with Simpson.

“There’s always something to improve on,” Nielsen said.