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Coming to a Dining Hall Near You

Brick oven pizza makes list of new menu items to be offerred at Lyndon

Published: Thursday, March 8, 2012

Updated: Friday, March 9, 2012 00:03

Sodexo, one of the nation's largest food service companies in the world, has earned an approximate $5 million dollar annual operating contract to take over dining services for four of Vermont's state colleges, and Lyndon is one of them.

The company will replace Aramark, who has been serving the Vermont State College system for nearly twenty years.

"The decision ultimately came down to cost and quality," said Daniel Smith, VSC Director of Community Relations and Public Policy. "Across the colleges, their proposal was simply a better deal. The people responsible for the contract felt they were better," he said. The 5-year contract also comes with a 5-year renewal option. Sodexo will be paid an annual $1.1 million for operating Lyndon's dining services, about $100,000 less than what Aramark would have charged had the contract carried over to next year with the company.

When students return for classes in the fall of 2012, some of the most notable changes will be seen in the Stevens Dining Hall and The Hornet's Nest. According to a Sodexo proposal citing the future of Lyndon's dining services, students should expect a completely renovated facility and a brand new menu within the next five years, with the most notable changes happening within their first year on campus. The company, who has teamed up with local architectural firm Truexcullins, said recently that they would be creating "Vail Diner," which will serve the main portions you'd expect at the dining hall. Brand new food preparation areas will allow them to serve lots of new items: from scrambled eggs to ham and cheese frittatas, turkey sandwiches for lunch and cobblers for desert, Vail Diner will have a great, new variety. But, that's not all.

"Students will walk into a completely transformed residential dining restaurant featuring Bella Trattoria, an open hearth, wood–fired oven where fresh flatbreads, hand-stretched pizzas and calzones and casseroles fill the air," the proposal said. Other featured Italian dishes include chicken cacciatore, meat lasagna and baked ziti.

Seating will also be enhanced, with the addition of an energy-efficient wood pellet stove and large flat screen televisions. Grill, bakery, deli and salad sections will also still be available, along with selections of Green Mountain coffee. A new subsection featuring gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free products will also be offered.

Other new items expected include a dedicated recycling center with separate bins for plastics, glass, compostable food items and newspapers. A "Simply To Go" section full of hot and cold menu items ready to be eaten on the run for students will be constructed, too. Raffles for attending campus events will even be offered, along with a new program offering reusable containers.

A program called "Global Chef" will be instituted at Lyndon, where students will be introduced to "skilled and respected executive chefs from Sodexo affiliates around the world." The chefs will share authentic international cuisines, regional fare, chef specialties and traditional cooking techniques from their home regions and bring them to the LSC campus.

The Hornet's Nest will also be expecting a variety of new changes. New menu items such as root beer floats, rancheros, queso burgers, shredded steak salads will soon be enjoyed.

While most salaried Aramark employees will lose their jobs in July, Sodexo says they are committed to hiring all of the existing hourly employees, stating that "They will have no interruption in benefits and we recognize seniority. We look forward to implementing a transition plan that makes the transition seamless for the employees." Employed students will also have a chance to apply for scholarships.

When it comes to a managerial team, Sodexo stressed they will be focused on connecting with both employees and the community in numerous ways.

"We believe it is important that our managers embrace and believe in the mission, vision and values of the campus they will serve," the proposal stated. "Each one is not only a valued Sodexo manager, but will soon become an integral member of the Northeast Kingdom."

The proposal said that Joseph McClain, of Queens, New York, is being offered as the new general manager of food services at the Stevens Dining Hall. Currently, McClain serves as Sodexo's interim general manager at Franklin Pierce University. They've also named Hue Wetherbee, of Warren, New Hampshire, as Executive Chef. Warren is currently a production manager for Sodexo at Plymouth State University. Rob MacFarlane, of Rutland, Vermont, will be the district manager overseeing the Vermont State College's dining services. A dietary nutritionist will also be overseeing food selections to make sure both Sodexo and students are making balanced choices.

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