Following the pattern of the last couple of years, Sodexo has changed its food offerings around campus this fall. Student opinion is mixed: Most are content or happy with the changes at this point in the semester but some have found settled frustrations in Concordia’s food offerings.
For those who are unaware, Sodexo staffs and serves at the cafeteria for general meals all day, The Landing for subs and soup, The Nest for American and multicultural carryout, and The Coop in the mornings for breakfast and coffee.
The most obvious change has occurred at The Nest, where a Mac and Cheese bar is now available. Students like Peyton Smith, a senior wrestler and Mass Communication student, have been enjoying the variety.
“I usually only go to the Nest at lunch, but I love the mac and cheese addition,” Smith said.
With the addition of more options, however, the portions of other options have been cut. Sophomore Accounting student and baseball player Tyler Murray shared his experience with daily lunchtime salads.
“To have the salad go from a meal-sized box to a mid [sic] side salad… one of those salads isn’t enough for an athlete,” he said.
Similar downsizing has touched the burritos from The Taqueria, the Peking Plate Chinese cuisine option, and on rare occasions the options at The Grill.
As a bonus, however, curly fries and cheese curds are thrown in the friers, which the students who remain on campus through Saturday or Sunday can enjoy for a meal swipe or the same price as a grilled cheese sandwich.
Concordia’s most popular food option outside of the cafeteria has remained the Landing. As such, it has also remained mostly intact.
Students have primarily noticed the reduced length of the sub sandwiches and lower frequency of chili, but the return of bacon has kept some students spending extra Falcon Points.
Michael Schweitzer, a Computer Science junior and the Concordia Debate Club President, shared that he has questioned his lunch routine because of the Landing changes.
“Before, you would get a full, big sandwich and now they’re about two-thirds of the size. Portion size changes are noticeable, and chili was their best soup so I miss it,” he said.
Schweitzer added that most of his Falcon Points during the year seem to go to the Landing’s bacon regardless.
The Siebert Dining Hall has also been modified this year as cuts in staffing and yet another new head chef led to major restructuring. That has been no problem for athletes, as Murray explained.
“[The dining options] all have their strengths and weaknesses. There are plenty of options in the caf and I’m glad that it’s all you can eat. Sometimes college palates don’t like it, but I’ll stand in line as many times as I need to eat enough,” Murray said.
Freshman football player and Computer Science major Benjamin Wrenn was unsure what was new compared to last year, but self-service was a plus.
“The Caf has the most and lowest quality food, but I like serving myself because I can get bigger portions. At the Caf I can fill up,” Wrenn said.
Sodexo also provides The Coop in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, but no interviewed students included it in their review of the food options, likely due to The Coop’s breakfast focus which college students universally tend to skip, and its distance from the main sections of campus. The Coop serves Starbucks and bagels to the early birds of Concordia until 2 pm.
Among requests for better caf breakfast, more space in the Landing to reduce lines, and complaints about being charged a meal swipe for coffee, one theme stood out: pricing. Students have begun to feel with the portion size that their food is not worth the price.
“I don’t know the price equivalent exactly but I feel like I’m being overcharged,” Murray said.
As in most years, Sodexo’s new offerings are not enough to overcome students’ concerns. There seems to be a universal hope that the new options continue with more improvements in the next semester.
— Samuel Boehlke is an editor, blog manager, and photographer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. He is a Senior Editor with New Guard Press and Veraffinitas and a contributor at Wisconsin Right Now and The Federalist. He will graduate in May 2024 with his bachelor’s degree in mass communications.