Upon returning to Georgetown this August, many students found themselves disappointed with the changes in service offered at O’Donovan Hall. I immediately noticed a change in the variety of food that was offered, including the number of healthy food options. Students are frustrated with these changes and feel ignored by the organization responsible for these changes: Aramark, the company that manages Leo’s.

Some of my favorite food options were altered, like the wrap station and salad bar, and no sufficient explanation was offered for why these changes were made. It has become harder to make healthy eating choices when dining at Leo’s, and while talking with friends and other students, I have found that my experience and dissatisfaction has been felt across the board.

Aramark has signs proclaiming, “We Hear You,” yet I know few students who feel their voices have been heard. I had a conversation with a manager that failed to shed any light on the changes. “We Hear You 2.0” is a step in the right direction, but it still fails to address all of the concerns that students have brought to Aramark’s attention.

Many workers at Leo’s — people who take great pride in serving good food that students enjoy — have expressed deep concern about the quality of the food they have been asked to serve lately. Leo’s employees have spoken up against unfair working conditions, as well as student complaints. I worked with UniteHERE Local 23 this past summer, and I saw food service workers at various D.C. universities express this care and concern for students and our dining experience. I frequently heard workers refer to students as “their kids,” and proclaim that they would never serve food they wouldn’t eat themselves or serve to their families. These examples reflect the unique position food service workers have to advocate on behalf of students for the fresh and healthy food they deserve.

Giving workers more control over the food they prepare gives power to the people most concerned with the quality of students’ food. And allowing them to prepare more food from scratch will give students fresher, healthier food options. This idea is reflected in UniteHERE’s “Real Food Real Jobs” campaign, which focuses on the connection between fair, just jobs and fair, just food and the importance of having both in our dining halls.

In order for students to enjoy the food we deserve, we need workers who are given full-time hours as well as the training and resources necessary to prepare fresh, delicious food. I would like to see the goals of the “Real Food Real Jobs” campaign realized at Georgetown, which would reflect Georgetown’s Jesuit values and commitment to social justice. This is an opportunity for Georgetown students to stand up and ask that these values be upheld in all of the university’s actions, especially those that impact the lives of students and employees.

What is apparent from this situation is the need for students and workers to form and sustain a community where we stand in solidarity and advocate for all of our rights. In doing so, we have the power to effect real change and bring better food and better jobs to our campus.

ERIN RIORDAN is a sophomore in the College. She is a member of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee.

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