The new deal

The new company to provide all food services at Portland State is charging full steam ahead on changes to campus eating habits and food locations, including a drastic reorganization of the food court area.

Sodexho scored a clean sweep in the bid for PSU’s food services contract last winter, and will take over areas of food service not managed by its predecessor, Aramark. The Sodexho domain now includes Smith Center food court, Subway, the Meetro caf� in King Albert Hall, the new Ondine dining hall, a full service restaurant at University Place and catering service.

In its Portland State incarnation, Sodexho will operate under the temporary name of PSU Dining on Campus. The food court area will be redesigned so that much of it has a storefront appearance, rather than the closed front now facing the northwest side of the service area. The corner that currently houses the pizza and coffee service will be transformed into a new feature called Portland Fresh. It is a grab-and-go fresh food service that will feature organic foods as seasonally available. Portland Fresh menu is committed to the standard of the Food Alliance, a Portland-based nonprofit certifying environmentally sound, socially responsible farms and ranches supporting sustainable agriculture.

Despite the former Aramark employees’ fears that the new company would break the workers’ union by not rehiring them, said John Eckman, associate director of facilities, “the vast, vast majority [of employees] came over.”

Sodexho Food Services signed a contract with PSU on June 30, and the agreement preserves the union and honors seniority of employees.

Some student groups still plan to boycott the company as they threatened in April before the contract was signed, saying that the company had a history of union-busting and racist policies. “Now that Sodexho is here actually here, we want students to hear what Sodexho is all about and that it’s smart for students to not give them money,” said Kayla Goldfarb, co-coordinator of Students for Unity. An informational campaign is planned for next year.

Freshens smoothies will be relocated next to Portland Fresh. At that point, a new entranceway will be cut, giving greater access to interior outlets. Next to Freshens will be pizza and pasta. The new designs calls for a Starbucks Coffee storefront where the salad and drink facilities were. Next to it will be Noah’s Bagels, moved from its present interior location.

Far East Fusion, Simple Sushi, and the grill will remain in their present island location.

The back wall previously had a catch-all food service and Taco Bell, target of frequent student opposition. The former Taco Bell location will become Ultimate Baja Mexican food. Next door will be Garden Toss, a salad outlet with other takeaway items.

Sodexho has committed to a long-term program in which it will solicit input and feedback from its customers through focus groups in the upcoming school year. This may lead to a different permanent name for the brand.

The company will also pursue the potential of kiosks on campus, Eckman said. He predicted the move would start with one experimental kiosk dispensing coffee and other takeaway items. New kiosks would not be installed in the Park Blocks, he said, as the city controls that space.

Subway will reopen in mid-July.

Virginia Kinney, dealing pizza in the food court, was enthusiastic about the new setup.

“I worked at Subway for three years and I decided to come over here,” she said. “We’re ready to go.”

The new food court is scheduled to open September 12.

The Meetro will undergo only minor changes, mainly a cosmetic cleaning and possibly a new rug, Eckman said. It will remain open until 10 p.m. Hours in the other facilities will vary, with the standard hours being 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Eckman emphasized there will be a continuing concentration on sustainability.

Sodexho will also add new service meal plans designed for commuters, faculty and staff. They offer blocks of 20, 30 or 50 meals at the new Ondine dining hall and may be used anytime until expended. They range in price from $185 to $435.

Some meal plans will offer a certain number of meals per week. Some specify a certain number of meals during the quarter. Others operate on a declining balance system similar to a debit card, with a minimum purchase of $25.

The company lists four different catering plans, from a more elaborate plan for University Place, to a classic plan for meals and meeting breaks in Smith Center, to a to-go casual catering plan as well as a no frills option for party trays, packages and bulk items.