The quality of food at Fordham has been the subject of contentious debate since the school’s founding in 1841. Okay, maybe not that long, but in recent years, Fordham’s food ranked among worst in the country (it currently does not.) As a result of constant pressure and poor ratings, Fordham hired Aramark to replace Sodexo as the official food service provider for Fordham. Although the change was to deliver higher quality food, I think that the quality of Aramark’s food is the same as, if not worse than Sodexo.
Starting with the McGinley Center, the hub for hungry students and faculty alike, not much has changed physically and most of the food remains the same. The bakery, beverages, grill, sandwich, omelet, vegan and salad stations are all in the same spots serving the same food by the same people. The quality of the food is very similar to Sodexo. There are some noticeable improvements, though, like the expanded cereal and coffee sections. Another is the option for rice and almond milks for those who do not drink regular milk. However, the overall quality has not budged in either direction.
In a buffet setting like the cafeteria, food providers must make food in large quantities. Quality is usually not the highest concern, but when the university revamps its entire food provider, there should be a noticeable change in quality.
Just below the cafeteria is Dagger John’s with a couple familiar places from last year. Starbucks and Jamba Juice are still side by side, but Mein Bowl has turned into Chopsticks. Chopsticks still serves traditional Asian food, but in a different style than Mein Bowl. The chefs sautee the meal right in front of the customer. At first, it seems like a major upgrade from the food last year, but in fact, it becomes a slower process that takes around 15 minutes to make. As Chopsticks is so often busy, cashiers and employees on break must cook to serve the line, which could affect the food quality. Employees with no cooking experience must man a grill and serve students who pay for a high quality experience.
A Crust Above, previously known to the populous as SubConnection, might be the point on the campus food map that has experienced the most notable changes in comparison with simply looks and function. Drastic change does not necesarily equate with improvement, however. There are now more options for basic sandwiches, but A Crust Above has abandoned the traditional sub sandwich.The buying power of the meal swipe at a location like A Crust Above has seemed to decrease.
In addition, the location has expanded on the miscellaneous items section. It now includes a wide selection of toiletries and other convenient store-esque materials. While this is a huge improvement, I cannot be sure whether that is a credit to the revamped Aramark system, or the University itself responding to and correcting an area of weakness.
Next is Cosi, a popular franchise on and off campus serving sandwiches, soups and salads. As it is corporately owned, it must keep up a quality standard. As a result, I do not fault Aramark for the lack of improvements or changes. Cosi has always been one of the higher quality places on campus and from Sodexo to Aramark it has kept its prestige.
Finally, the alluring Urban Kitchen (UK). Known to upperclassmen by its former name, the Grille, Urban Kitchen serves smoothies, salads, grilled foods and sandwiches. Compared to last year, the grub has gotten worse, and the restaurant suffers from an inventory problem. For about a week, the grill had no breaded chicken fingers, an ingredient for most things on the menu. Also, some salad options are sometimes out of stock, including cheeses and mixed greens.
The food offerings at this establishment were not revamped. here are a few new options, like the Philly cheesesteak, which cut some of the monotony out, but overall Urban Kitchen is the Grille 1.0. Urban Kitchen, however, still remains a fan favorite on campus.
The switch from Sodexo to Aramark has no remarkable changes or improvements that would require a change in food provider. Fordham listened to the pleas of the student population to improve the food served at the university, but in the end, the improvements students wanted have yet to come to fruition. Most of the same problems in quality persist, while the food has become quicker to make and serve. I acknowledge that no food provider will ever be perfect, but there should be careful thought put into how much something will be improved.
Mario Nicastro, FCRH ‘19, is a communication and media studies major from Warrington, Pennsylvania.