Enough of Sodexo

There’s more than just patat met cooking in the campus kitchen. Some TU students are protesting against Sodexo, the multinational food catering company that runs the TU’s restaurants, calling for an end to high campus food prices.

University students worldwide are seemingly always short of cash and always hungry, the latter thanks to their constant intellectual and physical pursuits. This is particularly bad news if you’re a TU Delft student, argue Said Idoum (BSc Aerospace Engineering), Malcom Brown (BSc Aerospace Engineering) and thousands of other TU students and staffers who’ve joined their Facebook protest against Sodexo, the TU’s food catering supplier, demanding an end to Sodexo’s high food prices. Moreover, as Idoum and Brown note, this isn’t the first time Sodexo’s faced student protests. According to Wikipedia, Sodexo’s been boycotted at some nine other universities worldwide.

What’s the purpose of your initiative?

”We aim to end the food monopoly on campus and introduce competition, giving different businesses the chance to compete, which will definitely improve quality and lower food prices. Also, allowing some stalls to be owned and operated by students or student associations will encourage student entrepreneurship.”

How do you plan to achieve this?

“We’ll voice our opinions, objections and suggestions to TU Delft and the public through public media channels. We’ll go on peaceful demonstrations or boycotts to fight this injustice.”

What prompted this action?

“Frustration towards Sodexo started years ago, and we decided to do something about it. We studied this issue for a few months, checking Sodexo’s background, other businesses and market prices. We then started a Facebook group on 25 May 2012 and had over 1000 members in the first three days.”

That’s a lot of members in just a few days.

”Indeed, we just crossed 2000 members yesterday, which is a clear indication of the frustration students and staff feel towards Sodexo’s greedy methods of conducting business and exploiting students. We didn’t have to convince people to join us.”

Who’s involved in the initiative?

”I co-founded the group with Malcom Brown, but TU Delft students were already complaining a lot about this among themselves. We started the group to unite voices. Although we’re leading the movement, this is a movement of TU students, staff and others who are sick of corporate exploitation in an unfair environment.”

Has there been a backlash against you yet?

“As with any movement, there are some critics: roughly 2% of voters voted against the movement. Some claimed that we don’t have to buy from Sodexo because we can always bring food from home or eat in the city center. But that’s not efficient or practical in most cases. All around the world, universities are places where students find the cheapest food. It’s not right that Sodexo abuses its monopoly privilege to force students to dine at its price and convenience or leave campus!”

So it’s also about competition?

“Yes, introducing competition doesn’t mean kicking Sodexo out. If Sodexo can still get clients with their current prices, they can also stay.”

How can students get involved?

”By joining our Facebook group, ‘Sodexo: We’ve Had Enough!’, and sharing opinions. Also, a petition requesting competition on campus will be available for people to sign at the BoekSwap student association, starting from 18 June.”

How do you see the movement developing in future?

”I’m optimistic. Sodexo’s been kicked out of several universities abroad. Mass complaints about overcharging students for food have yielded amazing results. TU Delft students aren’t less capable of controlling their own lives and deciding when enough is enough. Our message isn’t as aggressive as plainly kicking Sodexo out directly, but if competition is allowed in, Sodexo will either have to step up its game or get voted out by people’s wallets.”

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