By: Stefany Olivas, Staff Reporter
Graphic courtesy Jonathan Gamboa
“The school is always willing to spend a little bit of money to help students,” said Sodexo employee and General Manager of CNM Food Services Greg Fullmer .
He trains the supervisors to be responsive to students and take their concerns seriously, but still allows them some flexibility and the opportunity to put on their own specials, although all final prices are decided by CNM, said Fullmer.
He said that when he read a story in the CNM Chronicle about a supervisor charging for utensils at Westside campus, he put an end to the extra cost.
Providing services such as free utensils costs up to $25 a month, but that is not worth making the service unavailable to students, said Fullmer.
Vice President of Student Services Phillip Bustos said he oversees the Sodexo contract and makes sure that all conditions are met, relationships are in good standing, and all equipment is running properly.
When Sodexo receives a complaint about anything related to food services the problem is reported directly to him, he said.
“We rely on Sodexo to tell us what is good for the students,” said Bustos. “We have a really good relationship with Sodexo. They are very responsive.”
CNM and Sodexo try to and keep food costs down for students and whenever there is a price increase on food items they survey the eateries within a two mile radius of each campus to keep prices competitive, said Bustos.
“Price point is really important to us. We’re not about making money. We want to meet the needs of the students,” said Bustos.
Fullmer knows that the other campuses sometimes feel neglected and admits that he spends the majority of his time at the main campus cafeteria, but 85 percent of revenue comes from main campus, he said.
“Space and equipment available tells us what we can and can’t do from a menu standpoint. We try to offer as much as we can at each campus,” said Fullmer.
There are many obstacles to providing better food services like student population, location, and space available because it is very expensive to add a kitchen to a pre-existing building, said Fullmer.
He knows that some of the supplies at Montoya campus are old, but he said that once they start buying supplies they will look for smaller equipment which will leave more room for a wider variety of services, he said.
Whenever a new space opens up, CNM and Sodexo try to put in at least a coffee cart for students so they can get to a food service more quickly, Fullmer said.
Bustos said, “When there isn’t a service we try to subsidize it with other vendors. For example, Abuelita’s sells burritos at the South Valley campus. We’re trying to get the same thing at the Rio Rancho campus.”
Sodexo is also trying to provide healthier food options for students and next year Sodexo plans on offering specials based on the selection of seasonal vegetables, said Fullmer.
Fullmer said Sodexo is valuable to the school because the company has a lot of buying power with larger contractors for equipment and food such as Sysco, who provides 90 percent of their food services.
Sodexo will try to buy local products as much as possible and has relationships with local producers, mostly in other states, he said.
“New Mexico is not the best place for produce, and we require a five million dollar liability policy from our providers, but Sodexo has still managed to have Sysco contract with La Montañita,” he said.
He said they have looked into organic, vegan and gluten free products, but they have not gone that route because of the price.
“We know most of the students are still going to buy the junk food options, but we really want to try to make healthier options available.” said Fullmer.
Sodexo wants to be more engaged with the students and will encourage a Student Board of Directors next year to discuss concerns pertaining to provided food services with Executive Council of Students and CNM administration, he said.
“If students have concerns or suggestion there are suggestion cards out front and I do read every single one of them,” said Fullmer.