Sodexo, students team up for food advisory board


Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards

The University and Sodexo will create a new Food Advisory Board for students to provide input about potential changes in NU’s dining program. Some of the changes relate to meal plan options and students with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, vegans and people who follow a gluten-free diet.

Kelley Czajka, Reporter

Northwestern Dining and Sodexo are creating a new Food Advisory Board for students to provide input about changes they would like to see in the University’s dining program.

McCormick junior Sandeep Bharadwaj, who serves as Associated Student Government’s director of dining initiatives, said he met with Ken Field, NU’s dining director, and Rachel Tilghman, Sodexo’s director of communications and engagement, last year to discuss potential improvements to the campus dining system. The three of them decided to form the Food Advisory Board to figure out what changes needed to be made, Bharadwaj said.

“The idea behind starting it was to get a wider student base of opinions about the food and how we can improve it,” Bharadwaj said.

Bharadwaj said a lot of the changes revolve around meal plan options and students with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, vegans and people who follow a gluten-free diet.

In past years, NU had a joint board between Sodexo and ASG that comprised eight people and met two or three times per quarter to discuss programs and events for Sodexo to do with students, said Aaron Zelikovich (Weinberg ’14).

The former board was implemented primarily by Zelikovich with the help of Tilghman, then an undergraduate at Chapman University in California, as well as other fellow members of Sodexo’s National Student Board of Directors.

The board at NU was a more streamlined way to voice student concerns and opinions about Sodexo, Zelikovich said.

“We were very well aware this was a new thing that we were trying out and feeling out,” he said. “But I definitely know that without it, there wouldn’t be a committee today.”

After Zelikovich graduated, Tilghman said she and Field took more freedom to explore possible structures for the new board.

“We have a new director of dining who would also like to source ideas and feedback from students,” Tilghman said. “So we said, ‘Hey, this really worked, we would just need to revamp it a little bit,’ and that’s where we came up with the food advisory committee.”

Rather than having members devote themselves to specific areas such as sustainability or vegetarian diets as the previous board did, the Food Advisory Board will likely comprise nine to 12 students with various backgrounds and allow them to discuss potential changes.

“We’re kind of going to get all of the students in the room and see what the students want to make of it,” Tilghman said. “It’s really up to them. We’re just providing the forum and the resources for them to be doing that.”

The application for the Food Advisory Board will be open until midnight on Oct. 31, and the first meeting will be held on Nov. 10, Tilghman said.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to further engage students with this program,” she said. “Food is such a source of community and to be able to have students who are actually involved in shaping their community is really powerful, so I’m really looking forward to working with this board.”

This article has been updated to clarify that Northwestern Dining is the University department working to create the Food Advisory Board.

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