Throughout the 2009-2010 academic year, Sodexo has put on various events in Ritchie Marketplace.
“We try to do something every month,” Tim McLaughlin, the general manager for Sodexo, said.
According to McLaughlin, in October there was steak and shrimp night and in November they put on a specialty Thanksgiving dinner. In December, there was a Christmas meal and party. In February, a Valentine’s dinner was available and Chef Joaquin Suarez came to Adrian College from Columbia, as part of the global chef program to create a specialty menu for Ritchie. Suarez also made an appearance in professor of modern languages and cultures John Eipper’s accelerated Spanish literature class to talk about food and culture. Ritchie also had spring refreshers available for students the Thursday before spring break began, and has installed new cereal containers with different General Mills products.
“It was a good change for everybody,” freshman Alexandra Schaufele said about the specialty events. “I went to the Thanksgiving [dinner]. It was like a round table meal with all your friends. That was a lot of fun.”
Sodexo has also partnered with Chef Mai Pham, who owns her own restaurant in Sacramento, California, to create a menu for Ritchie every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the year, such as Thai spring rolls and curry.
“I think offering the international food is a good idea,” Schaufele said. “It provides more culture to AC campus.”
During finals week, Sodexo plans to put on a Breakfast under the Stars event, and is also going to provide food for commencement in April. After school ends in May, they anticipate having many catering orders to fill.
Also on April 22, Nikki Partee, the district marketing coordinator, plans on partnering with Adrian College’s Green Action Club (GAC) to offer a special event in honor of Earth Day, called “Pb and J for a Day.”
According to Partee, during Earth Day, Ritchie will provide various foods made of peanut butter and jelly, such as peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, as well as other standard food options.
She said that Pb and J Day saves water and carbon. dioxide and land.
According to Partee, eating peanut butter and jelly for the day saves 280 gallons of water, as opposed to eating hamburgers, and saves 12-50 square feet of deforestation, pesticide and pollution.
“It is astounding the difference [Pb and J Day makes],” McLaughlin said.
Sodexo has also partnered with many of its suppliers to offer a variety of opportunities for students.
Through General Mills, Sodexo sponsored the “Bike for a Better U” sweepstakes, where students could win a Timbuk2 backpack or a national prize of a school bike, which is like a bike share program for the campus.
There is also a contest that students can sign up for in the Caine Student Center, which is offered through Yoplait, a General Mills product, where contestants can win items such as a Wii or plasma screen TV.
“We have a lot of good relationships with our vendors,” McLaughlin said.
Sodexo is also planning a lot for next year.
The second day that freshmen are on campus for welcome week, they plan to put on an event, tentatively labeled “Bruiser-Palooza,” where Sodexo’s vendors will be invited to give out samples and small prizes, such as water bottles, as well as larger prizes like iPods.
According to McLaughlin, they are also looking into a sushi company that they could offer using dining dollars or a Mexican/Latin section in Ritchie, where they would offer food in a similar fashion to how the Mongolian grill is set up now.
They have also looked into offering Indian food once a month.
“It’s a traditional Indian boxed lunch,” McLaughlin said.
He also said that they are thinking about setting up a yogurt smoothie bar through the company “Freshens,” as well as a walk through pizza window.
“I really like the smoothie idea,” Schaufele said. “It would be really popular.”
They are also looking into a program for Ritchie similar to the Simply-to-Go program at Caine.
Sodexo has added Country Skillet onto the list of restaurants that accept dining dollars, as well.
“We’re always looking at new restaurants,” McLaughlin said.
One thing that McLaughlin said they are trying to improve is being able to get student opinions.
“There’s what the administration wants and there’s what the students want,” he said.
There are comment cards at the front of Ritchie available to students. There is also a link on the Adrian College website available for commenting about Ritchie and Sodexo.
McLaughlin said they are also looking into DTXT, a texting program that will allow students to receive texts about updates at Ritchie when they sign up for it.
“If we could get students to sign up, we could do different promotions,” Partee said.
Another thing that they are looking into for next year is partnering with GAC to have “Tray-less Days with a T,” where food trays will not be used in Ritchie on weekdays that have a T in them.
“I feel like that would be a good idea,” Schaufele said. “It’s not that hard to make a second trip for a drink or whatever else you want.”
According to McLaughlin, this will reduce a lot of waste and water consumption.
“In the U.S. the average food waste on our plate is 40%,” he said.
McLaughlin came to Adrian the second week of August, and has worked with Sodexo for five years.
“A position opened up and gave me an opportunity to come to campus,” McLaughlin said. “I think things have gone well. It’s been a great experience.”
Partee said that McLaughlin has created a completely different atmosphere since coming to AC, one that is more comfortable and clean.
“He’s made great changes,” Partee said.