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Lackmann discussions spurred by student opinions

By Lauren del Valle and Ehlayna Napolitano NEWS EDITORS

Reported health violations on Hofstra’s campus from the past six years are greater than violations on area campuses. Since 2009, 297 health code violations, both critical and blue violations, were issued to Lackmann Culinary Services on campus.

Having 13 locations that host eating establishments, Hofstra has more eateries on campus than many local campuses like Adelphi University and Long Island University CW Post. However, Lackmann Culinary Services operates on several other area campuses including Adelphi University and Molloy College, where violations are also significant.

Lackmann services six locations on Adelphi’s campus. Among those six eateries, Lackmann received 72 health code violations since 2009. Their services at Molloy College received 48 violations at the three dining location on their Rockville Centre campus.

Aramark Education Group operates the dining facilities at Long Island University CW Post. There are 10 eateries on the Brookville campus. Since 2009, 121 health code violations were recorded. The comparisons are based on data published on the New York State Department of Health website.

Student dissatisfaction with Lackmann has spread in influence over the past week, reaching University Senate and spurring students to vocalize complaints. Last Wednesday, the scheduled University Senate meeting focused primarily on Lackmann-student relations. Lackmann representatives, including Regional Manager Dennis Lestrange and marketing manager Crystal Samuel were present at the meeting, and discussed with student representatives issues that students have taken with the food service on campus. Much of this discussion revolved around meal plan complaints, although health regulations and violations were touched upon.

“Our first meeting with them served its purpose and we’re moving forward,” said University Senate member Jared Sarcka.

“Both bodies, the University Senate and SGA, are coming together and working on this because I think we understand that this is something that is extremely important to students and has been,” said Sarcka. “And I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Students feel that the Hofstra administration has done little to act as a mediary between Lackmann and the community over the years.

“I hate to do this but some of the [responsibility] has to be put on past administration,” said Sarcka. “There was a call out by students saying ‘Look Lackmann is taking advantage of us’ to some extent and those students were not heard. Luckily, I think we have the administration now with the leadership of the three new student affairs officials... they’re interested in what students think and they understand that students come first.”

Dean of Students Sofia B. Pertuz was also present at the meeting. For her, she said, effective communication between the student population and Lackmann management is important, and that communication is one of her goals as dean of students.

“I, as dean of students, would love to have students be as happy as possible,” Pertuz said.

Further, she said, the meeting was useful in bringing together both sides of the discussion of dining services at Hofstra.

“Although it doesn’t solve the immediate [issue], it starts the conversation,” Pertuz said.

Further, Pertuz noted that a meeting of the Food Committee will take place on Nov. 18. She anticipates that there will be a discussion of health violations as well as the possibility for improvement.

In spite of advice from Pertuz to attend, senior Julie Rafatpanah, who has been an vocal critic of Lackmann, will likely not be at that meeting.

“If it’s run by Lackmann, I don’t care because I don’t trust them,” Rafatpanah said. “... I think they’ve completely eroded trust.”

Rafatpanah met with Pertuz on Friday afternoon. During the meeting, Rafatpanah voiced complaints about the food quality, as well as concerns over the pricing of food on campus. She stated that the dean of students was open to discussion and offered advice to Rafatpanah going forward, that included the attendance of the Food Committee meeting this week.

During the meeting, Rafatpanah also said she shared a spreadsheet she created, detailing the price differences between food items in Dutch and equivalent products in Stop and Shop.That, she said, is her next goal: fairer pricing of food on campus. According to Rafatpanah, the price must either decrease to match quality, or quality must increase to match the price.

“It always comes back to price and quality... and Lackmann will definitely not do both,” Rafatpanah said.

Although she said that the mobilization of students would be ideal, Rafatpanah is mostly aiming to inform as well as motivate change, if she can.

“I want more students to be informed about how bad it is,” she said. “Students have this feeling that ‘oh yeah, it’s bad,’ but it’s worse. It’s worse than that.”

It’s a problem she feels remains a major one –something she’s hoping might change in the future. She is continuing to meet with Hofstra officials, including Lestrange. She also hopes to reach out to University President Stuart Rabinowitz and learn more about Hofstra’s contract with Lackmann.

“If there was any other problem happening three times a day, I don’t think Hofstra would ignore it,” Rafatpanah said.

Letter to the Editor: LACKMANN CULINARY SERVICES

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