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The Blue & Gray Press | August 25, 2019

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Student events may be limited by catering policies

Student events may be limited by catering policies


Catering on Campus May be a Source of Convenience, or Limiting Smoke wafted over the outside of the University Center last Monday as the University of Mary Washington’s Class Council started Junior Ring Week with a bang, offering hamburgers and beverages to students with the swipe of an Eagle Once card.

Sodexo, the organization that heads UMW’s Dining Services, catered the event, an employee grilling burgers as condiments and drink coolers stood ready nearby.

Student organizations like Class Council may have used Sodexo’s catering services before to provide food and beverages for large events. While the catering services may be a convenient spot to pick up food on campus with an organization who also provides food for the cafeteria and other on-campus locations, it may also be limiting as rates from Sodexo may get expensive for large events, and policies make it difficult to order catering outside UMW.

Junior Class President, Caitriona Cobb, said that Class Council caters through Sodexo frequently for events. Student groups are required to order through Sodexo unless they obtain a waiver. The group’s experience with Sodexo, according to Cobb, has been generally positive, but she did list a few issues.

“We’ve had a couple of miscommunications about what we wanted to order but we’ve had fantastic service for the Junior Ring Dance and Junior Ring Ceremony,” Cobb said. “If you wanted something very specific, it is also possible that Sodexo may not offer it on their menu.”

Because Class Council has not used catering services outside of the university, Cobb was unsure if they would use other catering services in the Fredericksburg area.

Sodexo offers shoestring catering, described as a “low-cost, no-frills” service available to the student government, residential students and registered student groups who want to provide food for “the enhancement of student social life on campus,” the brochure listing the menu reads. The shoestring catering is available to all student groups, according to catering director Marjorie Hopkins.

The shoestring catering includes snacks and appetizers, meals for a minimum of 15 people, platters and desserts.   The menu also includes birthday packages, which include a 10-inch cake, sparkling cider, a card, balloons, party bags and free delivery for $50.

Compared to catering services from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia, the prices between the catering services appeared to be similar. Comparing boxed lunches, which typically include a sandwich, chips, fruit and a beverage, Sodexo sells boxed lunches for $6.50 per person. At Virginia Commonwealth University, a budget boxed lunch is $7.99 each and University of Virginia has a similar package between $6.79 and $8.79 per person.

According to Hopkins, Sodexo can cater for student groups as often as they request it. “We meet personally with student group leaders, creating events that suit their individual needs,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins also said that Sodexo keeps student budgets in mind and is open to adjusting prices.

“Working within budgets for student groups is a priority for us,” Hopkins said.

The university is currently answering the question of Sodexo’s policy on student groups catering on campus.