Sodexo gives update on campus dining


Jacob Boyko, News Editor

At the Oct. 24 South Dakota State University Students’ Association meeting, senators received updates on the Sodexo transition from Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Wermedal and Sodexo’s resident general manager at SDSU, Damien Lewis. The Senate also approved three student organization constitutions and passed a resolution mandating attendance at diversity events during a senator’s term.


Sodexo took over SDSU dining operations May 27 after the last provider, Aramark, lost its bid to become the statewide vendor for South Dakota’s six regental universities. Since taking over, some services offered during Aramark’s tenure have yet to make a comeback, including mobile ordering at some locations. Sodexo has also faced criticism for high food and beverage prices, limited operating hours and vacant restaurant locations around campus. 

“When we opened in August, we had 14 of the 19 sites open, but not all of those sites had full schedules,” Wermedal said. “Some of those sites, particularly QDOBA, had a partial day schedule and some sites were closed, including Mein Bowl, which was initially closed and opened the second day of operation. But particularly Union Coffee, QDOBA evening sessions and some spaces in Hansen [Hall] … weren’t open.”

Starship robots and mobile order were also not operational right away, Wermedal said.

As of Monday night, the C-Store in Hansen Hall has expanded its store hours to 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. seven days per week, which amounts to more operational hours than Aramark offered in the location last year. The Le Bread Xpress hot meal vending machine in Hansen Hall is operational, but the Yokai hot meal vending machine is still awaiting servicing before it can begin operation. 

Shorty’s Hotbox, which has been operating out of the Weary Wil’s location since last year, is now offering lunch and dinner hours. 

In The Market, These and Those Noodles, Slices Pizza and Grilled are offering Sunday night service. 

“It’s the first time in five years we’ve had Sunday night service in The Market,” Wermedal said. 

Sodexo also introduced chili and soups (a cream-based soup and a broth-based soup) to the Student Union C-Store. 

The salad bar has been delayed but is still in the works — Sodexo is working on a transition from a supplier to an in-house operation that may help cut costs and improve quality, Wermedal said.

At Larson Commons, Sodexo has introduced a topping bar, spice bar and to-go containers. Students may place a $6 deposit for a container that they can return to Larson’s and exchange for a washed and sanitized one. The deposit is only a one-time fee, Lewis said. Students may dine-in or get a meal to-go, but not both unless they plan on using another swipe.

Created With Love, which is housed where Extreme Pita was in prior years, has not been open since the transition. Wermedal said once the staffing situation is better across campus dining, Sodexo will look into opening the location. 

Garrett Satterly, the SA communications chair, voiced his concern about Sodexo’s pricing. 

“The costs are way up,” Satterly said. “I bought this bottle of water for $6.16, which seems outrageous for a bottle of water.”

Lewis told Satterly the $6.16 bottle of water was a mistake in the system and that students should ask cashiers at convenience stores dining locations about pricing that doesn’t seem right. 

“We have five other campuses that are playing in our register system right now, so if someone goes in and hits the wrong thing … and updates the UPC code or anything out, it changes it out,” Lewis said. 

Wermedal shared his own story about an egg salad sandwich that cost between $11 and $12. 

“I’m constantly shopping and checking the sites and I came over the first week of classes and bought myself an egg salad sandwich for $12,” Wermedal said. “I expected it to come with a hen and maybe a rooster to raise my own eggs.”

Wermedal said the expensive sandwich “doesn’t exist anymore” in campus convenience stores as Sodexo works to offer better prices for students.

Wermedal explained the high costs on campus are a result of the labor shortage. Companies, including Sodexo at SDSU, must pay higher wages to improve employee retention, which adds up more and more depending on the intricacy of the supply chain.

Lewis told the Senate Sodexo is paying its full time workers about $16 per hour to remain competitive among employers in Brookings. 

Sodexo offers about $13.50 per hour for students — $2.50 more than Aramark did last year.

40% of Sodexo’s operating costs at SDSU are employee wages, Lewis said.

Sodexo is also helping to fight food insecurity by donating two meal swipes at Larson Commons for every meal plan sold per semester. 

Beer Sales:

Wermedal confirmed Busch Light is still “leading the pack” in “The Great Beer Race of 2022.”

“In the first three games, we basically sold about 5,300 beers [per game] no matter how many people attended,” Wermedal said. “At the USD game, we sold twice that, so 10,000 beers in one game.”

Wermedal said the crowds have been well behaved since the introduction of alcohol. 

Student Organizations:

The Senate unanimously approved constitutions for three student organizations. Members from the Data Science Club, Veterinary Medicine Professional Program and Men’s Hockey Club addressed the Senate and answered questions about membership, missions and costs. 

The hockey club has 30 members and has seen interest from the Brookings community and SDSU alumni. The club is working to figure out practice times. 


The Senate passed Resolution 22-6-R, which requires senators to attend four diversity events before the end of term. The goal of the resolution is to “allow an active participation in widening our own viewpoints to meet students and attend events from people with diverse backgrounds,” 22-6-R reads.