More than a thought

After a not-so-satisfactory lunch, I wandered to the trash to dump my tray consisting of a paper plate, paper cup, napkins and some plastic utensils, only to find a full trash receptacle. A nearby trashcan was overflowing too.

Damn, that’s a lot of waste, especially for only being the Smith Center cafeteria. Why do all of the dishes have to be disposable? What about sustainability? For the answer I descended to the basement of Smith to visit the experts – Food For Thought Cafe.

If a focus on locally produced organic foods and ethical farming practices is what you seek, Food For Thought Cafe is your destination. It has an added perk: student workers who take pride in their work.

There is something about working for an establishment that you believe in, and it gives a certain sense of satisfaction. This satisfaction, no matter how subtle, can be seen, felt and enjoyed by the customer. I noticed it while eating there, and it’s reflected in the final product as well.

Sure, no workplace is heavenly and orgasmic to work at, but if you have to break a sweat for your income, it might as well be a place that has such a solid set of values: locally and sustainably grown food, less packaging, more recycling and composting, affordable good food, living wages and community-based management.

“I enjoy working in a close-knit community built with people I share common values with, coworkers and customers alike,” said student worker Nathan Hodges.

It is these values that are the way of the future if we still want there to be a future. We are dining in an overtaxed system that will fail us soon if we do not change our wasteful ways and think about the future.

Since its opening in 2003, Food For Thought Caf� has proved itself to be a viable alternative for the future, not only with sustainable business practices, but with student popularity. I don’t recall hearing any rumors about a boycott and protest that Food For Thought Caf� was opening. In fact it was applauded and widely accepted, and judging by the line out the door every day at lunch, it still is.

“Great service,” said Food For Thought patron Bob Daugherty. “I have enjoyed everything I’ve had here.”

This is why I think that Food For Thought Caf� should be the primary food service establishment at PSU.

If newly contracted Sodexho wants to give us a sub-satisfactory product, then Sodexho belongs in the basement. How dare they simply waltz in here like a friend of an acquaintance that is self-invited to a house party. Sure, there were “talks.” What happened to the students? Shouldn’t the students have a say in what concerns them? It is doubtful that the people making these decisions for us have any clue about the consequences of their decisions.

We should give them a piece of our mind, and speak as one voice. I say we have an election, a paperless vote for or against them on Banweb. If voted for, then Sodexho can come in here and treat their workers and potential workers in such a manner (See Vanguard issues from April 18, April 12, etc.) as to not honor the union contract, and to make employees who have already proved their loyalty to re-apply for their own jobs. I don’t care if I am served by a man with orange and green hair, just as long as he treats me with the same respect I show to him. I am sure that unhappy workers who are taken for granted by some huge corporation are less likely to be more customer-oriented.

Sodexho should not be allowed in. And if we do not have a say in the matter, I will be there in protest and boycott.

If a solution is possible, I have one. I say the basement is like the try-outs in sporting events. If you can make it there, then you will be considered for the main cafeteria. Food For Thought Caf� has proven itself there for several years now. It is time to promote them to the big leagues. PSU would definitely send the message to the world if it did that, it would show just how progressive “Oregon’s Largest University” really is.

Seth Lewin can be reached at [email protected]