Aramark misses the mark with dining choices on campus

Justin Mutch,

Have you noticed that the food on campus is disgusting? Of course you have.

The Panda Express in the University Union seems a bit more bland than the restaurants. The Pizza Hut is greasy and malodorous. Taco Bell is more nauseating than usual, and the Subway sandwiches often look flat and soggy.

A multi-billion dollar corporation called Aramark is the reason we are given mediocre cuisine. According to Forbes, Aramark oversees the distribution of food and dining supplies to professional sports arenas, concert venues, high schools, universities, offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and even prisons. This is how so many major dining chains have booths at Giants and A’s games. It is also why we are given flavorless batches of orange chicken at the union Panda Express.

In fact, according to Aramark’s website, every single dining option on cam- pus is supplied by Aramark, aside from the food trucks. That includes Einstein Bros., everything in the University Union, the Dining Hall, POD, and yes, even Starbucks.

“I hate that we have such a horrible selection of food,” said Derrek Gudino, a CSUEB senior and English major. “We may be college students on the go, but we want better selections than smelly Pizza Hut and greasy Taco Bell.”

Greens to Go, the only remotely healthy option on campus, charges $10 for sub-par vegetables in what one student described as “a basic a– salad.”

“The sandwiches at the bookstore and the POD need to be better,” Liberal Studies major Denesse Anunciacion said. “They look like the ones that are sold at gas stations in the middle of nowhere when you’re driving to Vegas.”

Why does a California State University serve its students unappetizing meals? We students are spending roughly $10,000 a year to attend this school, shouldn’t we be given better options?

Aramark is not in the business of serving quality food. In fact, it routinely provides rotten meals. In 2014, Aramark made national headlines when ESPN reported that expired food was knowingly being served at the Kansas City Royals’ stadium during the World Series. The report revealed that the ball park’s food offerings were rampant with health hazards and violations: mouse excrement was found inside bread dough, moldy burgers were being sold, expired pizza dough was being used, and perishables were being stored at unsafe temperatures.

Not long after, Aramark, which supplies food to over 500 correctional facilities across the US, found itself at the center of another public relations nightmare when prisoners in various institutions complained about being served rotten meals. A former inmate wrote an article for Vice, which detailed the culinary horrors he witnessed in a Michigan jail. In July of 2015, the state of Michigan’s prison system scrapped its $145 million contract with Aramark after disturbing allegations came to light.

Aramark fired 176 employees for misconduct in Michigan alone. They were caught engaging in sexual contact with inmates, smuggling drugs and cellphones into facilities, and there was even one instance of an employee orchestrating the contract killing of a prisoner.

The Vice article also mentioned that employees were cited for serving inmates food straight from the trash, often filled with maggots – and this was reported 15 different times, with one instance causing 30 prisoners to be quarantined. Inmates in Kent County, Michigan are suing Aramark in federal court for allowing its employees to knowingly serve rotten chicken, which poisoned 250 people.

So now, we must ask ourselves: is this really a company that should be providing food for students at our university? The students I talked to certainly do not think so. “Aramark is awful,” Gudino said. “I’m amazed we use them.”

So what can be done to ensure that we are not being put at risk as well? Students at New York University, for example, are boycotting their school’s dining options until it ends all business with Aramark. Perhaps students here should follow suit.

Aramark is the epitome of an evil corporation. It is one thing to find health code violations at a sports venue; it is another thing entirely to intentionally and systematically poison hundreds of people.

If CSU East Bay truly wants its students to thrive, it should take the necessary steps to ensure that we too are not being put at risk by Aramark’s shady practices.