Aramark Loses Its Mark – Brandeis Dining to Be Headed Up By Sodexo starting July

This e-mail re new Brandeis Dining Service partner Sodexo was sent to Brandeis Staff and Faculty earlier today (Thursday June the 20th)

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Brandeis University is pleased to announce that we have selected Sodexo as our new campus dining partner. Beginning July 1, 2013, Sodexo will begin managing and operating Dining Services on campus.  

Sodexo’s commitment to excellent customer service, customer satisfaction, local & sustainable foods, and food-forward innovation make them a welcome addition to our campus. Their culinary team will bring a passion for fresh food and catering excellence to campus. Some of the new offerings you will see on campus will include: Starbucks, Russo’s Market, and the first Guy Fieri on Campus located in New England.

Over the coming weeks, Sodexo and Brandeis will share more specific information about meal plans, dining hours, new food formats, events and other information. 

Please join me in welcoming our new Resident District Manager of Dining Services, Jay Degioia. You can reach Jay at ext. 64276 or email

If you have other questions or would like additional information, please contact Mark Collins at 64435 or

Thank you,

Ellen de Graffenreid

Senior Vice President for Communications


So, this is huge! Students have been criticizing and campaigning against Aramark for years (decades?) because of the quality of their food as well as their ideological stances (human rights vi, underpaid employees, etc). Does anyone out there have opinions on/knowledge of Sodexo? Do we know what's going to be happening to the Aramark workers?

I will be researching them, feel free to comment or e-mail in tips (tips @ For now, here's the "Controversies" section of their Wikipedia page:

"There have been at least nine boycotts of Sodexo, for varying reasons: at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, at the American University in Washington D.C., and at Université Laval in Quebec City, at Binghamton University in New York, and Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, at DePauw University in Indiana, Hollins University in Roanoke, VirginiaEmory University in Atlanta, Georgia,[13][14][15] at Nordea banks in Finland, at the University of Tampere, Finland and at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.[16] At DePauw University the students protested against Sodexo's alleged low pay, former investment in private prison businesses, and the lack of local food options.[17]

At the Nordea banks the issue was a cut in wages after Sodexo took over the bank's workplace food services.[18][19] After a successful boycott, the wages were raised.[20]

In 2009, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a United States nationwide campaign against Sodexo with their stated objective of improving wage and job standards. In 2010, the SEIU recruited students at many U.S. colleges to support strikes and demonstrations in protest of Sodexo's alleged unfair labor practices including anti-union behavior and paying low wages. [21][22] Although one series of strikes at the University of Pittsburgh led to the negotiation of higher wages and lower cost health insurance plans for the cafeteria workers,[23][24][25] none of the Sodexo accounts targeted by the SEIU have unionized or even requested an election vote. According to a statement from Sodexo, the SEIU engaged in a smear campaign in an effort to drive out rival labor unions that have traditionally operated in the foodservice industry as well as for general publicity.[26]

Sodexo filed a lawsuit in March 2011 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act accusing the SEIU of "engaging in illegal tactics in its effort to unionize workers".[27] During the trial, it was revealed that the SEIU had written and distributed a manual to its staff detailing how “outside pressure can involve jeopardizing relationships between the employer and lenders, investors, stockholders, customers, clients, patients, tenants, politicians, or others on whom the employer depends for funds.” Tactics recommended include references to blackmail, extortion, accusations of racism and sexism, and targeting the homes and neighborhoods of business leaders for demonstrations.[28] Following the court discovery of this document, SEIU agreed to terminate their public campaign focused on Sodexo and the charges against SEIU were dropped.[29]

In May 2011, 27 University of Washington students were arrested during a sit in at the University's administrative offices for protesting the University's concessions contract with Sodexo.[30]Shortly after, on May 19, another 13 students were arrested under similar circumstances.[31]

All of the frozen beef products used by Sodexo in the UK were withdrawn on 22 February 2013 following the discovery of horse DNA in a sample.[32] The company supplies 2,300 institutions, including schools, old-age people homes, prisons and branches of the armed forces within the UK.[32]"


Since joining the Justice League I’ve been thinking about what it is I’d like changed at Brandeis. This process has been good and bad. For one thing, I’ve realized there are a lot of things I’d like to see different at Brandeis, but more importantly I’ve realized that I have consistently broken in my Brandeis University experience. I love the scenery, the proximity to Boston, the attitude of professors to students and vice versa, and a lot of other things. But there’s one thing I always come back to as a let down at Brandeis: the food. I’ve never seen such low quality food cost so much. It actually makes me happy to eat off campus because everything costs 2-4 dollars less and its better quality food.

When I was a freshman I lived in Massell quad. My dining options were A) schlep up the hill to Usdan for every meal or, B) walk 50 feet to Sherman. You can probably guess where I ate at least 20 meals a week. Turns out, I was as lazy as every other student in Massell, so Sherman became somewhat of a hang out spot. My friends and I would sit in Sherman for hours just talking about, well, anything really, but the conversation would eventually turn to the quality of the food.

One of the terms I heard used around this time was “Sherman shits.” The idea was that the amount of time you spent eating Sherman food was directly proportional to the amount of time you would spend on the toilet that day. I don’t know who coined the term, nor did I take it too seriously at first. Then my boss at the Stein (also the manager of Sherman building) heard me say it in passing and gave me a stern talking to. Not sure whether he was trying to hide something or if he was just fed up with people insulting the quality of his food. I’ll let that speak for itself.

Anyway, a few days later, my friends and I were eating in Sherman once again. Ben, a friend I now live with, announced he would be eating a Sherman burger. We all warned him of the danger, but he would have none of it. How do I say this . . . Ben has a terrible constitution. He has asthma, uses an inhaler, trips often, is mildly lactose intolerant, and is just generally known for having a weak immune system. It was the perfect storm. As we all watched Ben eat he just smiled and said he would be fine, and that he had burgers at Usdan all the time. Ok we said, Ok. A few minutes later Ben left, still smiling, to go the bathroom, said he’d be right back. 45 minutes later a much paler looking Ben sat down at our table and kept to himself. All we could get out of him was, “I don’t wanna talk about it you guys.”


If you eat in Usdan you’ve probably  seen this sign:

It’s funny that Aramark thinks they can appeal to students by framing their food as the hippie, liberal alternative.  The sign makes it clear that Aramark exec’s like Director of Dining Operations, Michael Newmark, don’t understand our perspective. If they did, they would have signs and matereials that would market healthy food in a respectful way.

If you look at it from Aramark’s point of view, offering cage-free eggs is a great idea because it is a low cost gimmick that will make students slightly more likely to think that they are socially conscious. After all, they have done close to nothing to improve the dining halls in the past couple years.  Of course, making significant investments in dining services at Brandeis more often than they need to in order to keep Brandeis students from complaining about them, would be a waste, because they don’t really care how happy we are, as long as they don’t lose money.

But, you say, that’s not true, they really do care about our concerns because they brought Quiznos and it’s a lot better than everything else in Usdan.

Hm, why would Aramark do such a nice thing for us?

Perhaps because their contract is ending after May 2009.

Oh, okay, so this means that we can get another dining service starting in the fall if we want right?

Not so fast. In order for us to get a new dining services contractor, Brandeis would need to put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to companies that would be interested in making our food. Companies would then write up estimates of how much they would charge to provide us with dining services and Brandeis would be able to choose to hire a new contractor or make another contract with Aramark. Up to this point nobody has heard anything about Brandeis sending out an RFP. Why not? My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that Joseph Neubauer is the CEO of Aramark, and his wife, Jeanette Lerman is on the Board of Trustees of Brandeis.

What a coincidence.