Brooke Coupal ‘16
On March 25, 2015, Sodexo held a town hall meeting for students to come and voice their questions and concerns to the management of Sodexo. Four students attended this event, and were able to discuss the dining services at Merrimack College with Brian Monaghan, the interim General Manager for Dining Services at Merrimack College, Wendy Benney, the interim Executive Chef for Dining Services at Merrimack College, and Michelle Herlihy, the Area Marketing Coordinator who supports the Dining Services at Merrimack College.
A few weeks prior to this event, Monaghan and Benney were called in to help support Merrimack College’s dining services. Once they entered the campus, they took the time to look at the menu and re-vamp it; trying to put more of a variety to what is served.
When Benney came to Merrimack, she decided to enhance the dining options. She added more cooked vegetables to the different stations in Sparky’s, added bacon to breakfast every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and put hard-boiled eggs on the salad bar. She also made it so the burger station was not repetitive every day, offering more of a variety to the students. Another move that she has implemented is creating more complete meals, where there are different options to go with the main course. She also has plans to change around brunch to give that more of a variety as well.
Benney understands that the Sodexo staff has to be in-tune with what’s going on in the student’s life in order to serve the college. With most students eating food from Merrimack Dining Services seven days a week; three meals a day, Sodexo has to try to keep meals fresh and current with what the students want to eat. Due to this, Monaghan expressed that the Dining Services are trying new items to see how they go.
“Let’s put it out there, let’s see what the reception is, and let’s make tweaks as we go,” Benney stated.
Dining Services tries to satisfy the needs of all students on campus, including ones with food allergies. Sparky’s offers a “simple servings” station where these foods are cooked specifically for students’ with allergies. This station mirrors what is offered on the main line. Along with this, staff is starting to put up more ingredient lists for people so they are knowledgeable about what is in the food that they are eating.
With this new management in the kitchen, they are taking the time to get the staff engaged, while looking at the strengths and challenges that the staff presents. This way, certain staff members can be put to do different tasks where their strengths lie in order to run a smooth kitchen. Along with working with the current staff, more dish staff have been hired to keep the utensils and dish area clean.
As Dining Services at Merrimack College continue to move forward, Herlihy hopes to “bring the Merrimack community into the space.” If student organizations wish to conduct events in Sparky’s or any of the other dining areas, Herlihy is happy to move forward with these ideas.
Management of the Dining Services at Merrimack College encourage anyone to come talk to them, whether it be that they need specially made foods to accommodate an allergy, they have a recipe that they would like the dining areas to try, or just to come talk about new ideas. Their office is located next to the front desk of Sparky’s for all those to wish to stop in and talk.
“We want anyone to feel comfortable enough to come talk to us,” stated Monaghan.
For more information about Sodexo at Merrimack College, please visit merrimack.sodexomyway.com.