Quit bitching about Sodexo


Staff Writer

Kendall Hazel | Staff Writer

Hooked in? Yeah, it is not often you see the word “bitching” in a newspaper article title. But seriously, I mean it. Here is why:

I recently visited with Ken Allen, the General Manager of Sodexo Food Services for Buena Vista University, and it was utterly eye-opening. I have seen Ken hundreds of times since my freshmen year. I’ve nodded politely. I’ve answered the occasional, “Get enough to eat?” He always seemed like a nice guy. Turns out, I was right.

If you don’t know who Ken is, then go to the servery and look around for the super tall, smiling dude that is busting his ass. I knew how quality of a person Ken was going to be when he took 20 minutes out of his day at 12:15 PM… during lunch… on chicken bacon ranch day. He didn’t hesitate to meet with me just to help me cover a story about wing nights. Once we got talking, it was evident that he really cares about his job.

You think Sodexo sucks? Shut up.

Ken told me that they serve at least 1800 meals a day. What did you do today? Or last week for that matter? I bet you didn’t feed an entire college campus.

“But, Kendall, it’s just BV. We are like the smallest school in the IIAC.”

I don’t care. You know why? Here is why. You like Steak Night? You like Wing Night? You wake up hungover on a Sunday and thank God that it’s marquee brunch? Yeah, me too. I also like the fact that I don’t have to pay extra just to get those. Guess what other schools get? Not that. Feel free to thank Ken whenever. The dude provides.

You think the food quality sucks, huh? That is fine. Then sit your ass down and take the survey’s sponsored by Sodexo. From what I learned from Ken, he listens. If that isn’t enough for you, tell him. He wants to know. When he asks how your food is, answer honestly. It’s that easy. He and Nate Blum get a menu from corporate, and based on the surveys people take, they take the liberty of changing the menu to fit everyone’s desires. I don’t remember hummus being on this campus during my freshmen or sophomore year. Now, thanks to someone who probably asked for it, we have a hummus bar. It’s crazy how things work when you are honest and ask for something. You want it? Ken and his squad will likely make it happen.

All Ken cares about is that people eat good, nutritious food. He wants people leaving the servery with a full stomach. Shame on Ken for truly, deeply caring about the students of BV. You wanna whine again? He is all of your moms… 1800 times a day. Jen Hazel is a damn champion of a mother, but even she couldn’t handle that (shout out Jenny Haze).

You like ice cream? Looks like it. We have a pretty sweet ice cream machine now that churns out some pretty solid ice cream. Ken put up with the old machine for too long. He told his higher ups that enough was enough. We got a new one. Yeah, enjoy your twist cone, bro.

Ken clearly isn’t the only person that works in the servery. I love the late night grill. I especially love the late night grill when its 10:45 PM, and I am starving after a night of studying in the library (a library is where smart people go to do college). I like cheese balls. I like popcorn chicken. My roommate Tanner likes chicken grillers. Guess who is gonna make those for us? That’s right—Sodexo employees.

BVU recently had a snow day. In the three winters that I have experienced at BV, campus has never been closed due to weather. By some divine miracle, super natural forces took over and BV was closed down for the day on February 2. To this day, that might have been the greatest email I have ever received. What was actually the coolest part about the email was that the servery was going to be open for all three meals. BVU didn’t want students driving for their own food and risking an accident (how sweet). So instead, Sodexo employees bundled up and made it to work despite the Hoth-like conditions (if you know what I mean by “Hoth” then we can likely be friends). BV students needed to be fed. They made it happen. Where is the appreciation for that? Instead of being grateful, you’d rather whine about the ranch dispenser being empty.

Look around the servery at dinner hours. You’ll see some faces that you normally see in class, but here, they are sporting some Sodexo blue and black and providing you with food. Sodexo hires students to help in the kitchen and refill all of the entrées and sides (chill out, they know your precious eggs are out—more are coming). Now BV students can make some money while helping you stuff your ungrateful mouth. That’s pretty neat.

I’ll be candid. Sometimes I get a little sick of eating in the servery every meal. I like going out to eat. La Jaus is good, obviously. McDonalds is a great go-to. For me, Arby’s is God’s restaurant and the employees are his angels. I could eat there every day. I’m sure you’re all like me and have your favorite places to eat. Going out costs money. Money is a little hard to come by. But hey, when mommy and daddy stop sending you money because you spent it all on cheap vodka and shots at M-town, Sodexo has your back.

If this isn’t changing your mind enough, then this fact will. If you travel around Storm Lake, then you will quickly notice there are some low income families all over town. These people need food just like you and me. Where do they go? They go to “The Bridge.” If you don’t know what the Bridge is, it is a Christian organization that focuses on changing people’s lives through Christ. One thing they do: give food to those in need. Food comes from all over the area from local restaurants, donations, etc. Guess where else? You got it. According to Center for Academic Excellence Director Donna Musel, Ken Allen is a long-time food donor. The man not only feeds you, but he does his best to feed those who are far less fortunate than you. That’s pretty damn amazing.

Be upset. It’s cool. Think I’m an idiot. That’s cool too. My complaint department is closed. Lucky for you, Ken’s is always open.

Photo by Stephanie Steiner