By SHANA ROSE
It’s the beginning of the spring 2015 semester. It’s a new year, new classes, new friends and for the freshmen, a new experience.
Know what else is new? Pima Community College’s cafeterias.
The cafeterias on each PCC campus looks emptier than before. The back kitchen and grill have been removed and all hot items have been temporarily taken off the menu.
Students might also notice the sandwiches, wraps and salads on shelves come from a hometown company, Eegee’s.
Another change takes place outside, where local food trucks are available to serve students and faculty.
These changes have been brought to you by Follett Higher Education Group, Pima’s new food service provider. The company also manages the college’s bookstore operations.
Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration David Bea said in a press release that Pima chose Follett because of the “company’s creative approach to serving their customers and their interest in working with local food companies.”
Sodexo, Pima’s previous food service provider, has been serving students and faculty for several years, and concluded its contract on Dec. 18, 2014.
Former Sodexo employee Matthew Smith, 36, had been with the company at Pima for six years and was one of many laid off during the transition.
“We had some idea that it might be coming,” Smith said. “Pretty much each of the last three semesters, Pima and Sodexo had been basically re-negotiating their contract on a semester-by-semester basis.”
Sodexo’s prices have been slightly increasing as a result of student enrollment declining since 2011, according to Pima’s enrollment trend report.
“The pizza went up about 15 cents per slice,” Smith said. “The lasagna and pasta went up almost $1. I’ve had students complain to me about that. They noticed the price change.”
Pima student, Derek Christo, 23, was one of many customers when the cafeteria reopened for spring semester.
“I didn’t notice a price change,” Christo said. “But they made the pizza slices bigger and give bigger portions on the fries. They seemed to try to give you more for how much you paid for.”
Follett was able to re-hire and keep some familiar faces at Pima, Smith being one.
Bea also expressed his gratitude towards Sodexo in the press release.
“On behalf of the college, I would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work,” Bea said. “Our hope is that Follett will be able to find employment for those Sodexo employees who would like to remain at the college.”