An appreciation of our essential employees

When the University closes due to snow or other unforeseen circumstances, everyone cheers for an unexpected day off. 

However, it’s not a day off for everyone.

Essential workers make up the foundation of this University.

For example, Facilities and Sodexo workers are always on campus, even on our days off. 

Facilities workers shovel our sidewalks and give us safe paths across campus. If you see a maintainer shoveling or sprinkling salt during a snowstorm, be sure to thank them!

Facilities workers keep our campus clean and safe. Sodexo workers keep us fed.

During a snow day, when you’re enjoying a nice hot meal in the Dining Commons – think of who prepared it for you. 

Just like Facilities, Sodexo, too, has a job to do when everyone else wants to stay inside and bundle up.

In March 2020, the campus closed and spring break was doubled. Only approximately 30 to 40 students returned to campus to complete the semester.

Both Facilities and Sodexo also had to be here to help support the students who needed to be in emergency housing during such unprecedented times.

Since the start of the pandemic, Sodexo has worked hard to adapt its policies and food programs in order to accommodate students’ needs on campus.

Each semester, Sodexo has implemented new ways to allow meal times to become more efficient, including the mobile ordering system.

This semester, more students are on campus since the pandemic began. Policies implemented this time around include making reservations for sit-down meals in the Dining Commons, and a Green To-Go Container Program was offered.

These programs were not perfect, but we as students understand why they were implemented – to keep us safe and fed, even during a pandemic.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, students had to pay to opt into the Green To-Go Program. As of the Spring 2022 Semester, students could enroll in the program without any additional up-front costs and sign out a to-go container. 

The Green To-Go Containers conveniently allow students to take food from the Dining Commons. Now, students can still eat a full meal without being restricted to sitting only in the Dining Commons. The containers also reduce waste, as students can only fit a certain amount of food in the containers that they are more likely to eat than throw out.

Though it was difficult at first for students to carry the empty plates to the dish conveyor belt while also carrying their containers, they adapted. 

Another program implemented by Sodexo is a re-introduction of the reservation system used during a previous semester when fewer students were on campus.

Students were required to sign up for half-hour time slots to sit down and eat a meal in the Dining Commons. Reservation sign-ups were available on the Framingham State Dining Services website.

The dining reservation system has since ended. Sodexo saw the difficulties it caused for both staff and students with such an increase in the number of people on campus. 

When students swiped into the Dining Commons, they had to give their names and their meal reservation order numbers to the cashier. At busy mealtimes, the line of students waiting to swipe in stretched past the Snack Bar.

Students who had forgotten to make a reservation before arriving at the Dining Commons crowded the hallway as they stood off to the side trying to sign up at the last minute.

Despite the good intentions that prompted the reservation system, it was clear there were better ways to enforce social distancing within the Dining Commons.

Sodexo is constantly looking for feedback and always wants to hear input from students. Student responses are incorporated in future changes within Dining Services.

At the time of this editorial’s publication, Sodexo will be here on yet another one of our unexpected days off. 

Sodexo has worked hard through tough times to support this University.

March 3 is National Employee Appreciation Day. FSU Dining Services regularly shows appreciation for staff on Instagram – namely, the Feature Fridays series.

We at The Gatepost want to thank Sodexo for all they have done for us and our fellow campus community members.

Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

FSU Dining Services can be found on Instagram @fsudining.