By Daniel Johnson, Investigative Reporter
Sodexo, the company that prepares and serves food for Main, Montoya and Westside campuses will be ready to switch to more locally grown foods if it is requested by the administration, said Sodexo Campus Services General Manager Greg Fullmer.
Fullmer’s comments came after the New Mexico Grown Fresh Produce for Meals Bill, HB338 passed the committee and moved to the Finance and Appropriations committee.
The bill would mandate that funding be provided for New Mexico K-12 public and charter schools for the purchase of local fruits and vegetables for school meals beginning in 2014, according to the New Mexico legislature website.
Administration members of CNM control pricing and food choices in the cafeterias, so if they request a change in menu, Sodexo will make the changes, he said.
“If the school requested us to go all organic or local we would try our hardest to provide that type of menu to the students, but the cost associated to that change would be put back on the school,” he said.
Director of Marketing and Communications Brad Moore said that if the bill were to pass, CNM would discuss whether to make the change to local and healthier meal options, but that there would be no decision made until the bill passed.
Culinary Arts major Samantha Doornbos said the idea of switching to more local or organic food would give students more choices as to what they put into their bodies.
“The food provided by Sodexo needs more variety because I want access to more than just burgers, pizza and sandwiches for lunch every day,” she said.
Often food offered at large institutions like CNM is unhealthy because it is purchased from large companies in bulk and later reheated for use, she said.
Culinary Arts major Joshua Loveless said he would support switching to more locally grown foods with healthy and organic options.
“The food that I have tried that was provided from Sodexo was crappy because it had little flavor, a lack of texture and tasted more like microwaved and ready-to-eat food than fresh food,” he said.
Fullmer said that many companies in the food industry are trying to purchase more local foods, but that it can make it difficult to provide variety to students, he said.
One solution is to widen the area considered local to include nearby states, he said.
“For example to receive the volume of produce needed to fill the demands of Sodexo we would have to order produce from Yuma Arizona,” said Fullmer.
Doornbos said having the nutritional value of the food provided might help change what a student chooses to eat when visiting the cafeteria.
“It would be cool to have access to the information for what I am eating so I could change my eating habits and try to be healthier with the food I consume,” she said.
Loveless said he has never seen any nutritional value for the food offered by Sodexo.
“Maybe they should invest in putting the information on a serving sheet on the tray; similar to the way McDonalds does it,” he said.
Fullmer said the nutritional information is being updated on the Sodexo website to correspond with the food that is served at all locations nationwide and should be completed by the end of the spring 2013 term.
Nutritional information is on hand and available on a facts card that can be requested from any Sodexo employee, he said.
The idea of posting the information in a visible area is something that Sodexo is also looking into, he said.
“We want to be able accommodate the needs of all students, staff and faculty from providing a big plate of nachos to a side Greek salad and having the nutritional information on each dish served being available to the customer that has ordered it,” said Fullmer.