Morgan State changes dining services provider for the first time in over 2 decades

Amongst the changes is a complete renovation of Rawlings Dining Hall

NaTavia Williams, Tariq Turner

Morgan State University has parted ways with Thompson Hospitality, the previous longstanding food service contract. The new vendor is SodexoMagic, a partnership between Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Sodexo Inc.

Campus life will look a lot different this semester as a limited number of students return to campus in accordance with social distancing guidelines. As of now, Rawlings Cafe will be the only food option on campus from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

With a click of a few buttons, students can access Bite by Sodexo University, an app completed with weekly menus and pre-order options. The app is set to be fully operational by next week. 

“You can pre-order your food from any of the stalls and it will be ready at the kiosk to come pick up,” Marketing Manager Raquel Suber said.  

Although there have been design changes in the Rawlings Dining Hall, students can still expect familiar faces behind the counters. Some of the old employees from the previous food vendor have remained on staff. 

“If they were to put an entirely new staff that definitely would have been a bit of a culture shock,” said Alex Freeman, student government association president. 

The University’s decision to partner with the company was decided upon after receiving feedback from students and other members of the Morgan campus community including the SGA, according to Freeman.

The five-year, nearly $45-million contract agreement between Morgan and SodexoMAGIC began on June 1.

Both buffet style and grab-and-go menu options will be available. All of the components of the buffet-style meal, including utensils and sauce, will be packaged in to-go containers. The drink station will no longer be self-serve. Instead, an employee will be there to take requests to decrease the amount of contact on the machines. 

Limited seating is available for students to enjoy their meals. Tables will be marked with orange and blue signs indicating when a table is sanitized and ready. Single occupancy and multi-occupancy tables will be present, however plexiglass has been installed on the multi-occupancy tables to allow students to enjoy meals together safely.

Morgan is the first historically Black college in Maryland that SodexoMAGIC has partnered with and owner “Magic” Johnson believes that the partnership will be successful. 

“I am confident my team will deliver best in class service to the Bears community,” he said. 

As part of the partnership, restaurateur Jamal Rasoully’s New York style pizzeria Baba’s Pizza and The Halal Shack, a restaurant that serves Middle Eastern food, are scheduled to open on campus this fall.

Along with providing Morgan students with nutritious meals, SodexoMAGIC will provide job opportunities for Baltimoreans. 

“[SodexoMAGIC’s] success is predicated upon economic development and sustainability in the communities we serve,” said SodexoMAGIC President, Selena Cuffe. 

According to a press release, new dining service enhancements and additions will be introduced in phases over the next several semesters. Included in these enhancements and additions are allergen-friendly meal programs, foods from local restaurants like Connie’s Chicken and Waffles, robot food deliveries, and menus crafted by SodexoMAGIC’s Chief Culinary Advisor and celebrity chef, Gerry Garvin. Several of these options, however, will not be opened until the campus is fully operational. 

“We listened to the voices of our students and the greater campus community and responded in a thoughtful yet comprehensive way that took into consideration the many diverse preferences and needs that we have here at Morgan,” said University President David Wilson.