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Dining companies linked to global prison industry

March 29th, 2007

Two food service providers bidding for a John Carroll University dining contract have been criticized for their investment in and support of the global prison industry.

One competitor is Sodexho, Inc., which is one of the largest food management companies in North America. It is a member of the Sodexho Alliance, a global corporation based in Paris, France.

Sodexho Alliance provides services in about 100 prisons globally. Kalyx, a wholly-owned Sodexho subsidiary formerly known as United Kingdom Detention Services, manages four prisons in England and Scotland. Kalyx’s website boasts that they “design, build, finance and manage prisons…in the UK.”

Sodexho Alliance also has contracts to provide services to correctional facilities in France, Australia, Chile, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, and Portugal. However, these services account for less than two percent of the corporation’s worldwide sales, according to Baten.

Sodexho Alliance also has contracts to provide services to correctional facilities in France, Australia, Chile, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, and Portugal. However, these services account for less than two percent of the corporation’s worldwide sales, according to Baten.

Following an editorial in last week’s edition of The Carroll News which questioned Sodexho’s involvement in the private prison industry, Tara Baten, Sodexho, Inc.’s senior manager of public relations, reiterated that the company does not own private prisons.

“Sodexho Alliance sold its shares in [Corrections Corporation of America] in June 2001 because the executive team believed that the stock ownership conflicted with the company’s core mission and values,” Baten said in a written statement.

Sodexho’s involvement in the private prison industry caused controversy in May of 2002 when Wheeling Jesuit University announced it would discontinue its partnership with the company. Rev. George Lundy, S.J., then-president of the university, announced in his statement that, “to continue our relationship with Sodexho would be inconsistent with the call of our tradition to have a special concern for and solidarity with the poor.”

He noted Sodexho’s ontributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization which has claimed credit for laws enacted to impose stricter sentences for offenders.
The president’s statement went on to declare that the university would “begin the process of transitioning to a new food service provider, one which is not profiting from the misery of those imprisoned…around the world.”

Baten insisted that Sodexho does not provide its services to jails in countries with capital punishment, stating that Sodexho does not currently have affiliation or membership with ALEC. She went on to note that, “by comparison, our two largest competitors derive a significantly greater proportion of their revenues from the work they do in the prison industry.”

One of those competitors, ARAMARK Corporation, has also placed a bid to become JCU’s food service provider.

The corporation claims to provide a wide range of services to more than 475 correctional institutions in North America. However, the extent of ARAMARK’s involvement in these facilities is the providing of food service, according to John Stadnik, the company’s director of business development.

Stadnik also stressed that ARAMARK does not have contracts with private prisons.
Baten stated that despite past controversies, Sodexho is committed to socially responsible business practices. “Sodexho is the first company in our industry to endorse the Global Sullivan Principles of Social Responsibility,” she said.

A committee of students and administrators is currently reviewing the proposals submitted by five companies vying for the University’s food service.

Three will be on campus between April 16-18. A decision on the award will be made April 27, with the contract commencing July 1.

Wheeling Jesuit University announced it would discontinue its partnership with the company. Rev. George Lundy, S.J., then-president of the university, announced in his statement that, “to continue our relationship with Sodexho would be inconsistent with the call of our tradition to have a special concern for and solidarity with the poor.”

He noted Sodexho’s ontributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization which has claimed credit for laws enacted to impose stricter sentences for offenders.

The president’s statement went on to declare that the university would “begin the process of transitioning to a new food service provider, one which is not profiting from the misery of those imprisoned…around the world.”

Baten insisted that Sodexho does not provide its services to jails in countries with capital punishment, stating that Sodexho does not currently have affiliation or membership with ALEC. She went on to note that, “by comparison, our two largest competitors derive a significantly greater proportion of their revenues from the work they do in the prison industry.”
One of those competitors, ARAMARK Corporation, has also placed a bid to become JCU’s food service provider.

The corporation claims to provide a wide range of services to more than 475 correctional institutions in North America. However, the extent of ARAMARK’s involvement in these facilities is the providing of food service, according to John Stadnik, the company’s director of business development.

Stadnik also stressed that ARAMARK does not have contracts with private prisons.

Baten stated that despite past controversies, Sodexho is committed to socially responsible business practices. “Sodexho is the first company in our industry to endorse the Global Sullivan Principles of Social Responsibility,” she said.

A committee of students and administrators is currently reviewing the proposals submitted by five companies vying for the University’s food service.

Three will be on campus between April 16-18. A decision on the award will be made April 27, with the contract commencing July 1.