Statement to Drop Sodexo

Sodexo, the 18th largest corporation in the world, is infamous for its host of civil rights abuses, exploitative labor policies, neoliberalism, anti-unionism, substandard food quality, violations of food safety, environmental destruction, racial discrimination, major class-action lawsuits, ownership of private prisons, and much more. The overwhelming profits and capital they have accumulated to make them one of the most powerful multinational corporations in the world are derived from incredible injustices, namely unpaid or underpaid labor from private prisons, unlivable wages, neocolonial relationships that allow them to acquire cheap raw materials from nations of the Global South, substantial gains from military contracts, and others that are too numerous to count. Institutions of higher education across the country have recognized how dangerous Sodexo is and ended business with the corporation, opting for self-service or other companies instead. While these decisions need to be made meticulously because any large food service company will be problematic to some degree, it has become clear through research and empirical data that it does not get much worse than Sodexo, and that just about any change away from the corporation is a good one. By continuing business with a company that has such an extensive corporate crime record, we are providing a monetary endorsement for their increasing exploitation of land, people, and communities throughout the world.


Scripps College prides itself on educating its students to be actively engaged community members. As a women’s college, we have developed a progressive curriculum that exposes students to real-world issues early on in their college education, beginning with Core 1 and continuing with the fantastic programming we have throughout each school year. The speakers, workshops, classes, professors, and panel discussions that promote critical thinking and compassion for oppressed people help facilitate important discussions about the major injustices that we are inherently involved in everyday. These include the pervasiveness of private prisons and wage theft against working class communities, to name a few. We are encouraged to analyze the historical bases of these problems and examine how they have developed within the capitalist economy to become such “natural” parts of our lives. As we begin to learn more and the power imbalances, growing concentration of wealth, and systematic oppression of marginalized communities becomes more and more evident, we are provided with the necessary resources to resist these normalized conditions. This is the time when students mobilize. This is the moment in which students address issues that they are taught to recognize as egregiously wrong.


As a Scripps community, we cannot stand back and allow Sodexo to continue their ruthless practices. We cannot be responsible for supporting what they represent. In its current form, having a contract with Sodexo and paying them to control our dining and facility services means we are investing in the injustices that they carry out in almost every corner of the globe. We are encouraging their growth as one of the largest multinational corporations to ever exist, feeding into their power and allowing them to gain momentum in their imperialist projects. The big picture goal is to put an end to these injustices perpetrated by Sodexo. This is a lofty task, and it will take much more than one school, or even one country, to divest from the corporation. Clearly, this is not what we are asking of Scripps. What we are asking is that we do our part as engaged and critically concerned community members to recognize the exploitation that occurs around us, consider our positionality, analyze our contributions, and strategize ways to combat the oppressive and illegal practices that carry on uninterrupted. We are asking that we take these steps and realize that what is necessary to being an ethically responsible institution is to stop investing in multinational corporations like Sodexo. We are asking that Scripps re-evaluates the lessons taught in the classrooms and our contradicting business decisions. We demand that Scripps terminate our contract with Sodexo and find an alternative option to service our dining and facilities departments.


Institutionalized Racism Forum

On the evening of Monday, November 23, members of the Scripps College community came together to participate in a forum on institutionalized racism hosted by interim President Amy Marcus-Newhall. At the forum, a group of Scripps students who have been active in the recent anti-racist movements on campus presented a thorough list of demands to be carried out by the senior staff. Getting Sodexo out of Malott was one of the twelve demands.

The following was read aloud to Scripps students, faculty, staff, and administrators during the forum:

We Demand: That Scripps stop contracting SODEXO and begin providing Living Wages to all staff.

    1. Failure: SODEXO has a history of underpaying their employees and denying workers’ rights. They are a major investor in the privatization of prisons in Europe. In 2005, there was a class action lawsuit for racial discrimination in the workplace which resulted in a $80 million settlement. They have a long history of overcharging clients, being anti-union, and violating food and safety standards. Other colleges stopped using SODEXO to protest its unjust and unsafe practices. At the 5C’s, Pitzer, CMC, and Pomona have stopped using SODEXO and have now switched to other contractors/self-service.
    3. Staff at Scripps are not paid living wages, and we cannot assume that the living wage is based on one adult supporting themselves. Living wages need to take into consideration the location (as Claremont has high costs of living) and family situations. Many of our staff must support families, and they deserve to be paid enough to do so. Scripps also hires some staff part-time so that they do not receive benefits and this practice only perpetuates institutional complicity in classism and racism.
      1. Story: CORE 1 has taught us about the harm and violence that the Prison Industrial Complex disproportionately puts onto communities of color, particularly Black folks. This switch away from SODEXO allows Scripps to remain accountable to the standardized curriculum it is teaching to its students. In addition, Scripps advocates for its students to challenge sexism in the workplace and close the wage gap, but this institution is dependent on underpaid women, especially women of color. Paying staff a living wage which allows them to support their families will hold Scripps accountable to advocating for gender equity in the workplace for all women, particularly women of color who are affected the most negatively by the wage gap.

Reiterate Demand: Scripps will switch to another food service (such as Bon Appetit, which is used at CMC and Pitzer). Scripps will make sure that every staff employee is paid a more accurate living wage.

Applause ensued. We hope that this strategic moment, coordinating the goals of our project with the current campus climate, will effect immediate and comprehensive change.

Read more about Scripps students’ list of demands for senior staff:

The Food Issue

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Scripps is right: we do have a food issue.

This college takes immense pride in its food. It’s part of Scripps’ overall obsession with perpetuating this perfect image of all these happy students frolicking around orange trees and pools. What’s beneath is far from perfect.

Students with dietary restrictions potentially don’t know what’s in the food they’re eating.

Students don’t know where their food comes from.

Students don’t have a choice when it comes to meals.

We have a students’ rights issue.

Sodexo isn’t just far from perfect, it’s about as far from perfect as a dining hall service could be.

Eating at Malott forces students to support a corporation that benefits from the prison-industrial complex and paid $80 million to settle a class action lawsuit about racial discrimination, among other atrocities.

We have a social responsibility issue.

The most visible sustainability initiative undergone by Malott in the past year is the discontinuation of the table tents (flyers on the middle of the dining hall tables). Bon Appétit has been sourcing at least 20% of each meal it serves from within 150 miles since 1999.

We have a sustainability issue.

To avoid having allergic reactions, many students limit themselves to eating the same foods for each meal because the labeling cannot be trusted and there are not sufficient options.

We have a health issue.


Most importantly, we have a food issue.



What’s for lunch?

You may vigilantly check the 5C ASPC menu before going to lunch or you may not care.

Why should you care what’s for lunch? You have to eat no matter what, right?

Unfortunately, you have no way of even knowing what parts of your meal should concern you. There are no signs indicating potential allergens or explanations of where the food’s source is.

Where does the meat come from?

Why is there MSG in this soup?

Why does Malott make such a big deal every time they have local apples?


Sodexo knows what’s for lunch.

Do you?