The Sou’wester endorses AVI Fresh as new food service provider

The Sou'wester endorses AVI Fresh as new food service provider

Editorial Board

As the student body votes for their preferred food vendor for the College to contract with next year, the Editorial Board of The Sou’wester would like to officially endorse AVI Fresh.

Rhodes is currently considering Sodexo, Harvest Table, Bon Appetit and AVI Fresh as our dining services contractor for next year. Like Aramark, Sodexo is a large food vendor used by a number of colleges and universities across the country. Reviews of the company on Glassdoor and anecdotal reports from students whose colleges contract with Sodexo indicate that it has several problems in common with Aramark. Students dread having to eat on campus and employees, particularly those who cook and serve students’ food, suffer verbal abuse from their supervisors. Contracting with Sodexo would not bring the changes that students and Rat and Lair employees deserve.

Contracting with  Harvest Table, who has been providing our food in the Rat since the beginning of this semester, would be a mistake. Harvest Table is owned by Aramark. At the food vendor town hall on March 19, a Harvest Table representative corrected Alice Berry ’21 when she asserted that it was an Aramark subsidiary, saying that Harvest Table’s parent company is Aramark, but did not explain what the practical differences of that distinction were. The Editorial Board worries about the ethics and practices of a company that operates under Aramark. While food quality did improve at the start of the semester, it has deteriorated once more. Students find feathers in their chicken or glass in their fruit cups. Just as important is the fact that Harvest Table appears to treat their hourly employees no better than Aramark did.

Bon Appetit is a smaller company than either Sodexo or Harvest Table, and prioritizes sustainability and locally-sourced food. As a food vendor that contracts primarily with private liberal arts colleges, Bon Appetit would appear to be well-suited for Rhodes. However, students at some of the institutions who partner with Bon Appetit say that food is not as good as their representatives would have us believe. Reviews from Glassdoor say that advancement for employees is practically non-existent and that employees feel mistreated.

The reason to choose AVI is not just that it does not suffer from the issues that other options do. AVI is a leader in the field for sustainability and began adhering to humane food practices before some of its peers did. In the March 19 town hall, AVI demonstrated enthusiasm about meeting with current Rat and Lair staff to listen to their needs and learn from their experiences. As a chef-run company, AVI is equipped to give students the variety and quality of food we expect from Rhodes. Beyond that, AVI is a company we can be proud to partner with.