Sodexo Adjusts To ‘New Normal’


Photos provided by Sandra McNamara, Catering Receptionist of CCSU Sodexo team.

Amariliz Torres, Contributor

After campus closed in March, Central Connecticut’s Sodexo team has continued worked to bring its students the nutrition they need as the pandemic forces them to adapt to new protocols and safety measures.

Jonathan Small, general manager of CCSU’s Sodexo team for five years, noticed that the student population has decreased significantly since the start of the semester.

“When we opened, our numbers went down drastically from what we thought we were going to have for  student population to what it is today,” he said.

Small and his team developed campus modifications within the dining halls and other eating areas, as well as closing the popular dining spot Zime in Willard-DiLoreto.

“We had to make modifications…to the right-size dining program based on the number of students that were eating with us, and we’re still looking at that constantly because we had a close,” he said.

Sandra McNamara, a catering receptionist for the Sodexo team, also noted catering services are being limited for student activities with production decreasing from 100 percent to 20 percent this semester.

“Catering has changed greatly for on-site activities,” she said “They would have “X” amount of money to spend to put back into the school to generate commodity clubs and now you see that’s very limited.”

Despite production decreases, the CCSU Sodexo team has been able to keep its services and employees safe.

“Once a week, we do a random testing of about 15 people a week. The employees have been safe and therefore it’s not transferring over to my customers,” Small said. “We actually have COVID teams that make sure that everything’s well. Restrictions mask are used and then we close down twice a day for an hour, and they clean everything.”

Aside from the safety measures initiated, they have also implemented additional safety designs in their facilities.

“All the personal protection equipment from the masks to the gloves to the hand-washing to all the plexiglass on tables and plexiglass of separating students from employees,” Small said “The ticket booth out front, which is where students could check-in for meals without having to touch anybody or anything.”

McNamara explained there has been a push to promote the proper use of masks around their facilities.

“I think we found students would keep them low and we have our management tell them that’s not the proper way,” she said, “keep their masks [on] and cleanliness, which we try to promote as much as we could.”

Besides the safety measures, Small believes his current situation has taken a toll on students, who miss certain aspects of the Sodexo experience.

“There have been things I know can be a little bit more difficult to handle…I give them credit, it’s been hard for them,” he said. “They like pancake Fridays with Steve, you know, there’s things that they miss that we missed.”

He wishes the program to be re-instated in the future.

“We would love to go back to what we were doing because we had a really good program,” Small said. “I was really proud of the program that we’re running and I’m happy with the program we have today.”

As for upcoming ideas for holidays, he is still looking for ideas and is not proud of the limited resources.

“I’m not as proud as I was because it’s just, we don’t have the ability to do all the things that we could do… I can’t have a buffet as a big Thanksgiving special right now” he said.

Even so, the Sodexo team wants to hear ideas from students, faculty members, and parents that could aid them for this season.