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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Diversity, equity official to leave GW in July
By Jenna Lee, Assistant News Editor • June 8, 2024

Few reforms seen on dining issues

The Student Association’s Dining Services Commission has met only once this semester and has made almost no progress on the changes to dining for which students have asked.

Last year, the DSC pushed for lower prices, prompting Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz to ask Sodexo, the food service provider in the Marvin Center, to reconsider its fruit pricing in J Street and other venues. The commission, led by current junior Chris Franzetti, also orchestrated the campus-wide survey of the dining program and set up comment cards and boxes for students in J Street. In addition, nine GWorld vendors were added to the program during the fall 2008 semester.

This year, commission chair Kim Neu said she has added a microwave to J Street. Saying she believes she underestimated the responsibilities of her position, Neu acknowledged some of her original goals were “na’ve.”

Neu said last year she wanted to expand weekday and weekend hours, encourage Sodexo to add more “mainstream” dining venues like Wendy’s to J Street – additions that are impossible with Sodexo’s union contracts – and add a wider selection to J Street Cafe.

None of these changes have been made and no progress has been announced on any dining fronts.

“[I] expected more public relations work,” Neu said. “I did not expect this much responsibility.”

The commission’s purpose is to connect students to the University dining program so both entities can share concerns and suggest improvement. The committee is supposed to meet monthly – and last year, the group of GW officials and students met about five times in the fall – but the DSC has met only once this year.

Director of Student and Support Services Nancy Haaga said her department works with the DSC to gather input from the student body and to make changes. Without the DSC, she said, “we are basically working in a vacuum.”

“This is to be partners with the students, to understand their likes and dislikes, to understand what they would like to see, to listen to their feedback ideas and suggestions,” Haaga said.

Neu said next semester she is planning a walking tour of J Street with the Sodexo team to tell them where students want changes made – but she also acknowledged that much of the dining area’s problems, like its prices, are “out of [her] hands.”

“Sodexo is getting the best they can for us,” Neu said. “They want to get us the best quality food, and these are the going rates for that.”

Despite many student complaints, SA President Julie Bindelglass said she is pleased with Neu’s progress this year.

“Kim is doing a great job with the situation she has been given. I can point to major dining accomplishments that would not have been possible without her, including the microwave in J Street, at least six new GWorld partners, the switch from Ya-Ya’s to Charlie Chang’s, and no increase in student organization catering costs,” she said, adding that Neu has been a helpful part of the GWorld outreach program.

Interviewed for a Nov. 9 Hatchet article on new vendors, however, Neu said she was unaware of the new additions. In addition, Sam Ramos, director of operations for Sodexo at GW, said at a DSC meeting in October that passing catering costs onto students “never came up in our discussions.”

Bindelglass said she is hoping for bigger changes in the coming semester, including a possible expansion of weekend hours, but was unable to specify how her administration would help solve that and other issues.

Many upperclassmen interviewed said they had seen more progress from the commission in previous years, and many freshmen said they were disappointed with their dining options, especially options in J Street and the mandatory money plan.

Many cited J Street’s prices and selection as a main cause of complaint, criticisms that echo a survey conducted by the commission last year that found 50 percent of students were unhappy with the dining program.

Emily Willhoft, a freshman, said there are plenty of improvements to be made at J Street, where many members of her class spend a significant portion of their GWorld money.

“We need more healthy options. J Street Cafe is fine, but it’s the places like Chik-Fil-A and Wendy’s that make it hard to eat healthy here,” she said.

Melissa Dishart, a freshman, said she has heard complaints that J Street is like cafeteria food, but said that was to be expected.

The real issues, she said, are that improvements need to be made in bringing down what she says are “not real-world prices.”

Nicole Pozzi and Lauren French contributed to this report.

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