Sodexo does not support Black Lives Matter. Here’s why.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Sodexo does not support Black Lives Matter. Here’s why.

By Isa Coty

LMU's first attempt at expressing their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was with an email that misspelled the names of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. This careless mistake left a bad taste in my mouth, especially because I thought of how LMU's contract with Sodexo directly contradicted the statement. Sodexo, LMU’s campus dining hall vendor, is a company that has committed many civil and human rights injustices against the Black community. In my view, this shows that the University isn’t in support of all Black lives when they support a company that manages private prisons, has been named in multiple racial discrimination lawsuits and overprices food with no benefit for food service workers. 

I believe most students know that Sodexo handles food service for prisons and detention centers, but not many are aware of just how deeply involved Sodexo is in mass incarceration. Currently, Sodexo manages six private prisons abroad and is involved with U.S. prisons and detention centers that disproportionately imprison Black people for decades. While the BLM movement is against individual, racially-motivated murders of Black people by the police, it is also against the racist systems and institutions, such as private prisons, that continue to harm Black futures. 

Sodexo has gotten caught up in four employment discrimination lawsuits. The biggest one involved Sodexo having to pay $80 million to 3,400 Black workers who proved they were systematically denied managerial promotions in 2005. Amidst these racial lawsuits, Sodexo has also been named one of the best places to work for multicultural women by Working Mother Magazine. This may largely be due to the fact that Sodexo has taken strides to double the amount of Black hires. The progressive value of the first initiative is canceled out, though, because Sodexo continues to underpay all their employees.

In addition to Black inmates and plaintiffs being substantially harmed, employees and students at LMU are also being harmed by Sodexo. Many students unknowingly contribute to funding our Black siblings’ mistreatment in private prisons for capitalist gain. Further, any student who lives in a residential building or suite is forced to buy a meal plan, even though suites have kitchens on the first floor. While some food in The Lair Marketplace and Roski’s Dining Hall is highly-priced, food service employees are not benefitting from this. Food service employees, who are mostly Latinx and Black, should not have to march with Unite Here! Local 11, a movement-based labor union, for better pay, health, and security they should have already been provided by a school that claims to be social-justice-oriented. 

I call for Loyola Marymount to end its contract with Sodexo because it is a company that contributes to mass incarceration. Other schools, such as Scripps College, Ithaca College and Fordham University have cut ties with Sodexo. I believe that LMU needs to step up and do the same while also offering campus employment for any laid-off Sodexo employees. Scripps College dropped Sodexo, as a dining hall contract finalist, due to student activists Drop Sodexo’s organized petition and protests. At Ithaca College, the need to protest was eliminated when the college held an open forum after multiple anti-Sodexo petitions were created by students, as well as parents. Though Fordham students were able to get their university to drop Sodexo through petitions in 2016, the new dining hall provider Aramark was soon found to also have ties to prisons. 

I believe universities and colleges should be against contributors to mass incarceration as a whole and not just switch to a similar evil. If LMU discontinues its contract with Sodexo, more varied and culture-specific foods could be served for not only Southern Black folks or African Americans, but for the many international students from the 85 countries they represent. If LMU supports BLM beyond mere words, the University will refuse to continue working with a company that manages prisons that destroy Black people’s futures. 


  1. This is an impressive piece. Pomona College also terminated Sodexo:

  2. yes!! so down to drop sodexo. thank you for sharing this