Food service workers face reduced hours, layoffs


COVID-19 precautionary measures enacted in March leave a fraction of Sodexo staff working in the Orleans Dining Room./ Photo courtesy of Kevin Zansler, 2012.

Daniel Schwalm and Shadera Moore

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to layoffs and reduced hours for Sodexo food service employees at Loyola, according to General Manager Andy Gaudiano.

Gaudiano did not say exactly how many employees have been laid off, but he did say that the majority of Sodexo’s staff was affected by these changes.

“Approximately 90% of our staff has been impacted, with an essential crew working daily to feed students authorized to be on campus,” Gaudiano said in an email interview.

He said that fewer than 15 Sodexo employees are continuing to work at Loyola at this time.

Since residential halls closed to most students on March 20 amid COVID-19 precautions, with an exemption for students with permission from the Office of Student Affairs to remain on campus, the Orleans Room dining hall has seen the number of students who come in for daily meals plummet.

Guadiano said that upon the request of the university and the recommendations of authorities, Sodexo is only offering boxed meals for pick-up at this time, as all of the food retail establishments on campus are closed and students are no longer allowed to stay in the Orleans Room to eat.

Gaudiano said that some employees who are still with the company have been assigned to temporary positions in other departments that still need staff, such as Sodexo Energy Resources, Facilities Management, Hospitals & Healthcare.

Gaudiano also said that Sodexo has extended three weeks’ worth of paid sick leave to employees who test positive for the disease or who must care for an ill family member infected with it. Other responses included the provision of online counseling services to staff.

For the benefit of students who are struggling with food insecurity, Gaudiano said that Sodexo contributed $500 worth of canned items to stock Iggy’s Cupboard with help from the student body, and plans to donate more are in the works.

In a town hall that was live streamed on YouTube last week, President Tania Tetlow said that she was aware of Sodexo’s plan to lay off workers, but that it was not up to the university whether or not Sodexo employees lost their jobs.

“I do believe that Sodexo, which runs our food services, has decided to make layoffs given the big change in demand for work there,” Tetlow said, “but that is not something that is up to us or within our power or control.”