The university recently signed a seven-year contract with Sodexo
By: KELSIE FERGUSON
Like sustainability? Enjoy good food and variety? Coffee lover? Need a job on campus? Keep reading.
IU South Bend recently signed a seven-year contract with Sodexo, complex and unique company which, according to their official website, provides “quality of life services” to organizations and individuals in both working and living environments. The contract signed this July will provide dining services for the entire campus, including Northside Express, The University Grill, and the currently-under-construction, Courtside Café.
As part of their winning bid, Sodexo is bringing new sustainability practices on campus along with $240,000 of improvements to our dining areas. This means options are about to get more interesting around the campus’ various dining locations.
Director of Dining Room Services Ziggy Pairitz has taken the opportunity these changes present to implement numerous sustainable, allergy-safe, and vegan and vegetarian-friendly practices to accommodate a broader range of student and faculty dining-related needs.
“We are about five to six weeks behind schedule so students may notice several changes taking place over the next few months,” Pairitz said. “We are adjusting the concepts to fit the needs of the campus.”
Some of the switches being made include introducing new compostable, non-toxic silverware as well as USA-based food containers made by Earth Choice. However, as kinks are worked out with vendors and old supplies are used up, students may still notice Styrofoam containers being used or lingering plastic silverware.
Another change is the new Simple Servings station in the University Grill which implements the use of specific and color-coded allergen-free kitchen equipment.
“We have managed to eliminate seven of the eight allergens. All except for fish. We are also introducing many vegetarian features. There is a lot of tweaking as we go,” Pairitz said.
Line cook Thomas Maybell runs the Simple Servings station. He took online classes over the summer to obtain his AllerTrain certification, which gave him specific knowledge and training to provide allergy-free menu items for diners.
There is a Slice-of-Life station which gives individuals the ability to make their own fresh-cooked personal pizzas. For those in a hurry, the grab-and-go options are expanding and students faculty and staff are now able to get pizza slices and burgers on the run. Worried it’s been sitting out? The university has a 15-minute policy and after which the food is removed.
“It’s a very popular station, when I was working it we couldn’t keep 60 cheeseburgers in there for more than eight minutes,” said Pairitiz.
The Homestyle (or “Chef’s Table”) station has begun using a wider variety of recipes varying from carved meats to comfort foods and some sautee as well.
Love coffee? Expect to see a Nescafe machine soon. Like cane-sugar soda? New Mexican sodas can be found in the cooler. Digital menu boards are also going to be installed above the stations. The expansion of dining options doesn’t end there. Curious about what’s going on in Courtside Cafe? Check out our story here for more.
The new Education and Arts building offers a small café with Starbucks coffee and baked goods, which are made in-house and not frozen or ordered. There are also fruit, or coffee smoothies available.
“We’re learning as we go, and are continuing to isolate the areas that need improving,” Pairitz said. “Students can expect to see transformations all semester.”