The University of Northern Colorado’s Dining Services was recently bought by Sodexo, one of the biggest food and facilities management companies in the world. But despite the sell, Dining Services has seen its fair share of controversies in recent weeks. Protests outside of Holmes dining hall are raising questions about Dining Services. A petition started by sophomore Melody Reil has garnered over 500 signatures and gained traction due to issues students were having with Holmes dining hall.
“I was just really tired of going to the dining hall every day and not liking anything I was eating,” Reil said. “None of my roommates were satisfied, people I would talk to weren’t satisfied, and I thought it’s just unfair for how much we’re paying. I don’t think it’s right. So, I thought if no one’s gonna do something, I’ll do something.”
The petition addresses the lack of food options for vegetarians and people with dietary needs, length of dining hours, availability of nutritional information and general complaints about food quality. Protesters have also started an Instagram page @uncodiningdish to catalogue unsafe food served at Holmes dining hall.
Despite the critiques, Dining Services representatives have been willing to cooperate and help address the issues students have been having.
“I do think they are willing to work, and they did take accountability for missing the mark,” Reil said. “So I think they are taking it seriously, especially now that they see how many of us have expressed our concern.”
Although no changes have been made yet, UNC representatives, such as Dining Services manager Brian Davis, have made it clear that student voices are being heard. But simply addressing these issues is not the only goal of the petition – coming up with solutions is also critical.
“I think just tightening up communication,” Davis said. “I think if everyone was more apprised of what’s happening everywhere, it would solve a lot of problems.
Reil also spoke to Meagan Johnson, the regional district manager for Sodexo, about potential solutions for the Dining Services issues.
“We talked about having a seasoning station, so it’s easier for picky eaters or people with allergens,” Reil said. “We talked about longer dining hours, we talked about having more information, we talked about having bigger signs with all these things.”
Despite all of the attention that the petition is getting, some people do not agree with how these issues are being addressed, such as Erin Pettorino, a student employee and Dining Services manager.
“People are protesting all of dining even though they are doing really great stuff for us,” Pettorino said. “Like they are opening up all these new places in the UC, they’re trying, and they’re not giving them a chance to finish and prove they are doing great things for us. They are only focusing on the bad things.”
Despite the ongoing issues, both students and university officials seem to be looking to solve the Dining Services problems the best they can.
“I think that it’s important to bring up the topic, have people talking about it, see if everyone agrees and then come together and work with faculty and students to come up with a solution,” Reil said.