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Got the runs? Don’t blame it on your meal plan.

Alex Morris, senior editor

Don’t eat at Gladfelter; they put laxatives in the food.  Sodexo is a multinational corporation that feeds prisoners, and what’s more it only gives the college students options of local food sometimes. Upstairs is bad, and Cowpie only lets you get seconds 15 minutes before closing, and, have you noticed? The vegan options are usually pretty bland.

These are just some of the complaints that I have heard about our college’s dining system since I arrived at

Warren Wilson as a naive, optimistic wide-eyed first year student. It was in my sophomore year that I got hired as a cashier; so Sodexo signs my paycheck.  However, I don’t think I’m too biased; I think I just see a side that some Wilson kids don’t. What follows are some things you might not have known about a giant company that does more than provide this college student a means to go out for dinner, purchase gas and, most importantly, buy beer.  Here we go y’all.

I’ll start with the most ridiculous. The food in Gladfelter and Cowpie do not have laxatives.  Sodexo supervisor Brian O’loughlin said this rumor is “insane.”

“College students might have a lot of reasons for the runs, but Gladfelter food is not one of them,” he said.  Having eaten Gladfelter food for almost four years now, I’m in agreement.  If you can’t stop shitting, drink less coffee.

Next, the food options. Students on the 21 meal plan pay less than $6.00 a day to eat as much food as they want within the time that Gladfelter is open.  They could have the super-sweet diet of sheet cakes, ice cream, and syrupy waffles for breakfast, or they could (and some do) subsist on a vegan-raw-food diet.  Many universities have a set allowance and food limit for each meal. While Cowpie does have a set amount of food they give you, there is always the option of eating upstairs.  And either place serves good, healthy food, especially for six bucks a day.  The only way you could live off of that little money per day otherwise, would be to eat from the dollar menu at fast food joints, and, for other college students, this is the only choice they have for their entire meal plan. Could you imagine the student outcry at such a thing here?   I know us rich kids are picky, and maybe we don’t have organic pine nuts and spelt bread, but there are bigger fish to fry around here than the Tilapia you got for dinner.

The prisoners issue: this, boys and girls, is a little touchy.  First of all, I don’t get what’s so wrong with feeding prisoners.  I mean, unless you want to dismantle the entire system after you get your undergrad in political science and peace studies, feel free.  Then we can talk about the moral implications of imprisoning people, and the companies that benefit from keeping inmates behind bars.  But, the way I see it, until then, people need to eat, incarcerated or not. Sodexo is hardly the reason why people are potentially being kept unjustly in jail.  The corporation does not provide services to prison facilities that apply capital punishment (AKA the USA), and where Sodexo does provide services, it is in the area of  training and job programs in order to encourage prisoners returning to society. The countries where Sodexo does provide to prisoners (including France, the Netherlands and Portugal), represent approximately 100 prisons and less than two percent of their worldwide sales.

All right, moving on to our favorite word on this campus- SUSTAINABILITY!  Environmental magazine Plenty (tag line: Keep the Environment at the Top of the Agenda) ranked Warren Wilson College number two for the greenest cafeteria within the entire United States, falling behind only the University of California at Santa Cruz.  UCSC has over 15,000 students and has a co-op of six small farms run by alums which contribute 25% of the college’s produce.  Here at Warren Wilson, local produce and meat, including food grown or raised by current students, represents about 17%.  (Fifteen percent of our food is organic by the way.)  UCSC may have won first place, but I’m a little skeptical. Their newest green move is eliminating trays!  Wowsers!  Wilson students don’t need our trays taken away because we never used them to begin with.  And there is currently a new initiative underway at UCSC to begin composting about 30% of the five tons of food they throw away weekly in their regional landfill. Hey, wait, don’t we compost like, all of our food? And napkins too?  Hey no wait, don’t we, like, even have kids that sit around the compost bin waiting for your food scraps.  Yeah, we definitely should have gotten first.

And on one final and more personal note – because our college caters to wealthy students, the issue of cash for dinner, movies, alcohol, Ingles, Chow time, gas, or even saving is, well, it’s typically not really an issue at all. For a minority of students, Sodexo is the only option for on-campus students to actually earn any sort of a continuous income, particularly if they don’t have a car.  I like this option.  I like my working environment and the people I work for. I don’t consider them “SODEXO,”  I consider them my coworkers and my friends. Our school may not be the Utopia it tends to project, but our food service and the people who provide it, from the farm crew, to the garden crew, to the dining crew, to the Sodexo employees are all an integral, vital, positive part of the Warren Wilson Community.

http://www.plentymag.com/features/2008/09/green_campuses.php

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