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Sierra College replaces food vendor, could earn $70K next year

Students share food for thought
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Students got their first taste of Sierra College?s new dining vendor Monday ? a change that is projected to generate $70,000 in commission revenue the first year for the college, according to Sue Michaels, spokesperson for Sierra College. Former officers of the Associated Students of Sierra College said after some issues with the previous provider, Sodexo, at the start of the last school year, a committee was formed to review proposals from new vendors. Pacific Dining, based in San Jose, was chosen and began coffee shop service Monday, coinciding with the start of summer classes. Students visiting the coffee shop said they are anticipating the new vendor will offer more consistent hours, higher quality food and less expensive prices. ?The hours changed abruptly. They weren?t open for breakfast,? said Andrew Nelson, ASSC president for the 2011-2012 school year, of the last food vendor. ?Our campus life committee met right away to talk about it and decide what to do. We just had a number of issues in the past.? Nelson said those issues also included a lack in customer service and students expressing the desire for a wider variety of menu options. A representative from Sodexo had not returned requests for comment as of press time Monday. The committee was made up of ASSC members, students and staff. Pacific Dining was chosen based on a favorable commission model for the college, longer operating hours and a wider variety of menu options. Nelson said committee members were also able to visit a community college Pacific Dining currently serves to try the food. There will be no costs to the college associated with the vendor and the college will be operating on a commission of the total sales for the first time ever. The money generated from the commission will initially be used to make some improvements to the cafeteria, he added. Sara Rose Lefler, 20, bought a cup of tea at the Den Caf Monday morning in between classes. She said she is hoping Pacific Dining will offer faster service at the cafeteria. ?It kind of took a long time, especially if you were going to one of the two more popular stations, sandwiches and Mexican food,? Lefler said. Kyle Lefler, her brother, 22, said he would like to see higher quality food in the cafeteria. ?They had a good selection, but some of the meat quality wasn?t quite on par,? Kyle Lefler said. Krystal Donaldson, 23, of Auburn, was enjoying a pastry and coffee from the caf. She said prices and hours are her biggest concerns when it comes to the campus food vendor. ?It depends on the prices and food selection,? Donaldson said. ?I thought they (hours) were a little shorter than most than most average student?s day. It seems it closed around noon.? Enrique Alonso, general manager for Pacific Foods, was running the caf with his team Monday morning. He said already the company has brought in all new products at the Den, including salads, Panini sandwiches, pastries and pita chips. When the cafeteria opens in the fall he said the company will give students many more options, including eight different types of hamburgers, from standard to western, and a variety of turkey sandwiches, including pesto turkey and turkey caesar. They will also offer a full breakfast menu each day. Alonso said Pacific Dining made the initial selections for Sierra College based on what is popular at other community college campuses, but emphasized that he wants to listen to student requests and respond to them. ?If it?s not good, we switch it out,? Alonso said. The Food Service Selection Committee said in a prepared statement that Pacific Dining was the standout among six proposals. ?We are confident that Pacific Dining is uniquely qualified to provide Sierra College with high quality food options, extended hours of operation and full service catering,? the statement said. ?Additionally, Pacific Dining will be operating the food service on a commission-based model whereby the District will receive a percentage of sales.? Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.