Aramark food service

As a student living in First Year Experience, I’m required to have a meal plan. As most can attest, the food at Victor’s in Ondine Residence Hall is subpar. But what’s even worse than the food at Victor’s is the company that runs it.

As a student living in First Year Experience, I’m required to have a meal plan. As most can attest, the food at Victor’s in Ondine Residence Hall is subpar. But what’s even worse than the food at Victor’s is the company that runs it.

Aramark provides foods services at Portland State and is one of the top 200 largest employers in the nation. As usual, the larger the corporation, the more corrupt it is.

A Google search for “Aramark lawsuit” brings up pages and pages of relevant and recent results. Nationally, Aramark has a reputation for punishing or firing workers who complain about bad food conditions. They’re expected to serve food that has gone bad anyway. The employees can’t do anything about it, in most cases, because many Aramark contracts contain a “no strike” clause.

Up until the current contract, PSU’s did as well. Aramark still has an extremely high rate of employee turnover, as witnessed here on campus. Its uniform division is currently the defendant in a sweatshop labor case filed in February. Dozens of Aramark employees’ complaints can be found on the Internet, ranging from sexual harassment to violating union contracts to a case in Alaska in which Aramark chose to pay a fine for eight years rather than address the raw sewage under a dining facility.

Unfortunately, our contract with Aramark will be renewed again in 2017 unless something happens. I can’t understand why it was renewed in the first place. Regardless of the principle of doing business with Aramark, this partnership counters the university’s interests.

Contracting with Aramark is totally counterproductive to how PSU brands itself. We’re trying to carve out a place for ourselves as a unique school, but we’re one of thousands of institutions Aramark serves.

Portland is a culinary landmark, not just for the state but for the whole nation. This city is famous for amazing food.

Aramark, on the other hand, is famous for terrible food (we are served the same food as many of our nation’s finest prisons). The PSU website calls Victor’s an “urban dining experience,” but Aramark is in no way representing Portland’s cuisine or serving food that is uniquely “urban.”

While the food served in the food court is an improvement, it’s still hugely overpriced. The employees in the food court are clearly given very little training and are constantly shuffled from restaurant to restaurant and between there and Victor’s. Both locations are understaffed.

Sadly, the average student can’t do much about it, besides not purchase a meal plan. But the university should be on the lookout for any opportunity to get out of the contract with Aramark. Its student employees are treated poorly, and its services are overpriced. Any instances of expired food being served, employees being mistreated and anything else underhanded or shady should be exposed.

While the branch of Aramark at PSU is not nearly as bad as many of the others, it’s still a waste of students’ money and hinders us from creating something a lot better than our current system.

What is an urban dining experience anyway? I really don’t know, but I do know that if you wanted one of these experiences you would be better off avoiding the dining hall and going to one of the food carts located on the street behind it.

There are so many better options out there than Aramark, and I wish they had been considered before this contract was renewed. We should be using local goods and local businesses in our dining hall. It fits with the urban renewal area plans as well, because PSU has made the assertion that we’re an economic force in downtown Portland. We should be putting money into our local economy rather than giving it to a multinational corporation headquartered in Philadelphia.

There is such a huge range of restaurants, stores, delis, etc. in Portland. I’m confident that new local partners and caterers could be found. Or, at the very least, more control could be put in the hands of students.

The student-run Food For Thought Cafe does well and makes great food. More student-run businesses and restaurants would give students a chance to gain managerial and entrepreneurial experience as well as keeping money flowing around the university.

There are Dining Dollars as well. I would love to have the ability to spend them on something other than the food in Smith Memorial Student Union and coffee. If PSU students could use Dining Dollars at more locations, even on campus, our options would open up a lot more.

If we get rid of Aramark, there would be a definite chance of making a meal plan with PSU that people actually want to purchase instead of making a bad one obligatory. Rather than partnering with a huge corporation because it’s easy, we should be innovative and create a program that, like First Year Experience’s Freshman Inquiry, will bring something new to PSU and make other colleges follow suit.

There’s no greater shame than wasted potential.