In 2015 the University sold a monopoly on campus residents’ eating habits and nutrition to Sodexo, a multinational food services and facilities management company with a long history of healthcode violations at universities across the country, but it’s about time SF State cut ties.
Residents of Mary Park, Mary Ward, the Towers and the Village are all required to purchase meal plans redeemable only in the residential dining hall, a facility run by Sodexo. Their choices there are limited to three establishments, one of which is known to many students as “Shitty Eats.”
A Department of Public Health investigation in February prompted by a complaint after a diner became ill after a meal at City Eats validated that nickname when an inspector discovered ‘old rat droppings’ beneath the deep fryer.
The obligatory meal plans cost thousands of dollars—the minimum 240-block meal plan runs $554 per month—but it’s a paternalistic concern that leads the University to pick the pockets of students, many of whom are already diving head first into tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
“Freshmen tend to not cook for themselves,” Executive Director of Housing, Dining & Conference Services Jeny Patino said. “[They] need to have structured access to a good variety of healthy, nutritious foods and meals while they focus on adapting to their new environment and educational goals.”
So, instead of offering students accessible and updated kitchens in their residence halls and to provide the option of beginning their adult lives as independent and self-sufficient individuals, the University infantilizes them for profit.
“I have access to cooking facilities, but it’s one kitchen for six floors of first-year students,” said 18-year-old freshman Kiara Rios Johnson.
“It’s not the most convenient kitchen ever, so I never use it. If I had an easier kitchen to use I would so opt out of a meal plan.”
What’s more, once the academic year comes to an end, all unredeemed meals are non-refundable.
“With how much I paid in the dorms it’s absolutely ridiculous,” sophomore Kelly Scheurer said of her experience living in the Towers last year. “I paid approximately $1800 per month to share a room and get sub-par food.” You would think if SF State was so concerned with the nutrition and health of students that it would prioritize the quality and safety of the food instead of cutting corners with a private contractor infamous in the pages of college newspapers across the country for subpar food and health code violations.
Pittsburgh University’s Market Central, a dining facility run by Sodexo racked up 46 different health violations in 2018.
During the Feb. 7 inspection, City Eats was not only cited for the presence of rodents but for storing beef at temperatures nearly 40 degrees fahrenheit below the USDA recommended 135-degree holding temperature.
When Xpress asked City Eats Resident District Manager HeeBong Hyun about recent health inspections she initially glossed over the three Feb. 7 violations.
“We passed [the inspection] with great scores which are posted in City Eats,” Hyun said.
“The inspector repeatedly said to me personally and to my management team how clean and sanitized our facility looked.”
The lack of transparency is concerning because City Eats serves thousands of students on a weekly basis. SF State needs to save face—and students’ health—by terminating their partnership with what students have dubbed “Shitty Eats.”