Meal hall has King’s students on edge


Sodexo General Manager Céline Beland  says she’s surprised by student complaints.
Sodexo General Manager Céline Beland  says she’s surprised by student complaints.   Sarah Poko

Some students at the University of King’s College are troubled about the cleanliness of Prince Hall. First-year student Isabelle Jackson feels the meal hall is not up to par when it comes to hygiene. She says she is surprised this is happening.

“A company that feeds so many people should be more careful,” says Jackson. “It seems quite lazy and cheap, to be honest.”

For $3,945 a year, students living in residence at the school have access to self-serve meals at Prince Hall. For approximately 25 years, Sodexo Canada has catered to students and staff at the cafeteria.

But some students at King’s feel Prince Hall should be more hygienic.

Gabi Palaric-Skinner, a first-year student at the Nova Scotia College for Art and Design, eats at Prince Hall.

She says she saw mould on the edge of the cream cheese that sits next to the bagels during the first week of the semester. She had already eaten the bagel with the spread when she made the discovery. She says she became ill afterwards.

A plate with dried food stains in a stack of clean plates in Prince Hall.
A plate with dried food stains in a stack of clean plates in Prince Hall.   Sarah Poko

“I noticed that there was mould on the cream cheese for the next two to three days before it was replaced,” says Palaric-Skinner.

Céline Beland, Sodexo’s general manager at King’s, says food inspections are conducted every month.

“We rotate our cheese on a regular basis,” Beland says. “We consider situations like this an emergency. It is really important for me to make sure my food is safe.”

This is not the first time students have had issues with cleanliness in Prince Hall.

Fourth-year student Johanna Pyle-Carter remembers when she got food poisoning two years ago. She says it happened after she ate breakfast in the meal hall.

Beland says Sodexo takes food safety seriously. It is mandatory for the staff to take the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training program. They renew their training every year. Beland says they also follow guidelines written by Sodexo and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

“Because it’s a self-serve service, it’s really difficult to control who touches what,” says Beland. “We have a sneeze-guard around the salad and a lot of students don’t realize the purpose of it and sometimes put their head under it to get food.”

Students have also complained about food stains on dishes, scales on fish, hair in food and rats in the meal hall.

“This is an old building so rodents are expected,” says Beland. “We have pest control come in every two weeks and we report to the school if we find something.”

Bryn Shaffer, a third-year student, used to eat her meals in Prince Hall. Shaffer says she didn’t hear any complaints from her friends.

“I remember the presentation of the food was exceptionally clean. They don’t joke about food safety,” says Shaffer.

Beland says every November she does ‘Walk the Talk,’ where she ask students if they are satisfied with Sodexo. “I’ve been in this business long enough,” says Beland. “There is always going to be mistakes made but Sodexo is here for the students.” 

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