The Louisville Cardinal

Everything you need to know about food at freshman orientation

Every seasoned Cardinal knows about Sodexo, the company in charge of over twenty student dining options across U of L’s campus. Have you ever wondered what they are doing in the slower summer months when they aren’t holding down the fort at McAlister’s and Einstein Bros?

They are actually in partnership with U of L Freshman Orientation, and they are in charge of serving the thousands of freshman walking through U of L’s doors, familiarizing themselves with campus before the start of the fall semester.

This year, the orientation staff is expecting 2,850 students, which turns into 11 orientation session — one more than the typical 10 summer sessions. Each session has about 275 students and welcomes approximately 200 families to attend on day one. In a single orientation date, Sodexo serves food, beverages and snacks eight different times, which includes serving for students, families and orientation staff.

Sodexo admits in years past the variety of food has been very limited.

This year, they are offering 15 to 20 different menus that will be rotated throughout the different orientation sessions. Most meals are served on double sided buffet tables, allowing students to move through the lines faster.

On day two of orientation, Sodexo does “action stations” which ties in food being served, as well as the traditional buffet style. Some of these will be a pad thai, omelet and quesadilla station.

It is also Sodexo’s responsibility to accommodate students with food allergies and special dietary needs, and it’s one that they take seriously. The Student Orientation Staff gets a list of those students prior to the session.

“My favorite part of the Orientation process is the SOS Luncheon that we do each year to kick off the Orientation season and to give an overview of what Dining Services does and all we can offer,” says Candyce Gordan, director of catering at Sodexo.

“This luncheon is a themed luncheon that coincides with either the skit themes or with the SROW theme for that year.  We have done an Alice In Wonderland theme, Peter Pan theme and last year a Harry Potter theme.  I enjoy making this event a creative experience that ties the food and décor into the atmosphere for a truly immersive experience.”

Sodexo’s planning for orientation begins at the end of the last orientation —  almost a full calendar year is require to work out all of the details. Sodexo then meets with Toree Parrish, Assistant Director of Admission for Orientation Programs, and Shannon McGinnis, Program Coordinator for Orientation Programs to discuss what they liked, disliked, or what they would like to potentially do differently in the upcoming year.

Sodexo also sponsors the SOS staff backpacks and donates to the orientation program to support the sneak peek into the life at U of L for incoming freshman.