Food is one of the top priorities of every college student. Thus, in an effort to optimize the student dining experience, ETSU switched their dining services provider from Aramark to Sodexo this semester.

Sodexo has since made many changes to the Marketplace, the main cafeteria on campus. According to Kayla Tucker, Marketing Manager for Sodexo at ETSU, one of these changes was to increase students’ access to food services.

“The Marketplace is now open from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m., seven days a week,” Tucker said.

This change was in direct response to appeals from the student body.

“We added more hours because students had been requesting it for a long time,” she said. “We worked with the university on this because we wanted to help students have access to healthy meals for an extended period of time.”

The change could have positive impacts for various student populations on campus, such as athletes who have late practices.

(Photograph by Katherine Dickerson/East Tennessean)

(Photograph by Katherine Dickerson/East Tennessean)

“Athletes are definitely benefiting from it, but so are students who have busy schedules in general. For example, new students who are trying to get oriented and students who have jobs or internships to deal with,” Tucker said.

But, its not just the Marketplace’s hours that have changed. Sodexo has also increased the nutritional value of the food they are serving.

In addition to extending the dining hours, Sodexo has launched what they are calling the “Mindful Program,” which seeks to increase student accessibility to new nutritional menu items.

“To be classified as ‘Mindful,’ an item has to meet nutritional and balanced guidelines. During every meal period, Mindful Program items are available at each station and marked with an icon so that students know they are making a healthier choice,” Tucker said.

Tucker was optimistic about the success of the transition from Aramark to Sodexo.

“For the most part the transition has been really smooth,” she said.

“We have a lot of the former employees from Aramark working for us,” she said. “A lot of the people working up front at the counters already have a relationship with the students and know them by name.”