Sodexo introduces mindful dining, Late Night changes


Mariah Howland

Paul Bento and Tom Fondakowski

Coming out of its first year at JSC, food service provider Sodexo is aiming to change the way we look at our food. The initiative, known as Mindful Dining on Campus, is a new way for students to monitor their calorie intake, create a balanced meal, and navigate the dining hall.

“When you go into a cafeteria and you’ve got all those choices,” said Sodexo General Manager Tom Fondakowski, “sometimes you don’t know where to look.”

Coming in late September, the new program will include signs posted around the dining hall to inform students of alternative dining options. A food station will be set up every day to feature a healthier version of another meal.

“That’s what we are really going to promote,” said Fondakowski.
Mindful Dining will include the free downloadable app “MyFitnessPal.” The app allows students to scan a barcode displayed on a sign, which will show students more information about the food they are considering. The app also allows users to count their calories and set healthy goals for themselves.
Another part of Mindful Dining is dining hall navigation.

Fondakowski and his staff suggest that diners take two trips around the hall, once to see what is there and another to choose what they want from those options. This way they will not head straight for the grill because it is the first thing they see.

Pamphlets are available across campus to explain this new initiative.

Other changes this year include a greatly expanded Late Night menu, headed by a newly hired supervisor, Travis Beard.
A Cambridge native, Beard has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years. The previous supervisor, James Marsh, a JSC Alum, has been promoted to dining services supervisor.

Another focus for Late Night is keeping the prices low.
“The students have told me loud and clear that they’re bargain hunters,” said Fondakowski. “They are looking for the best bang for the buck.”

The kitchen has also taken strides to become more environmentally friendly. Thanks to the research of JSC student Edmund Harris, water waste has been cut down significantly. Automatic timers have been installed on all dishwashers – shutting them off if they have been running for longer than two and a half minutes. Plates are also being wiped down by hand instead of being run under a constant stream of water.

The number of products from local groceries and farms has also been expanded, once again thanks to research by Harris. Last year, Sodexo spent one-third of its budget on local foods, including 13 farms through distributer Black River Produce. This year, Sodexo is using Morris Dairy as a milk provider.
A focus on Vermont is important for Sodexo, whose Johnson employees are Vermonters themselves.

“People don’t realize that sometimes,” said Fondakowski. “They hear Sodexo and they think [of] this big corporate machine.”

This year, Sodexo is planning to make all promotions and events student-geared. This includes expanding participation in the Dining Services Advisory Committee by seeking the input of RA’s.

The focus on the student was a big part of Fondakowski’s message. “We are all here for the students.” he said. “If there were no students, we would not have jobs.”