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Cerritos College Students Fight for Healthier Food

 

Food

Food (Photo credits: www.campgroundsigns.com)

By Kristin Grafft

Cerritos College student leaders and activists flocked to the board of trustees meeting on August 14 to convince the board to help them in the fight for healthier food options on campus.

Juan Ramirez, the Associated Student Body President, attended the meeting to “speak on behalf of the 22,000 students.” The majority of which, he said, eat off campus or bring their own food because of the lack of healthy options on campus.

“We just want some variety,” he said. Ramirez also pointed out that if more students ate on campus it would benefit the college as well, due to the increase in revenue it would produce.

Aldo Lopez, a psychology major and student leader, spoke during public comment advocating the many benefits of healthier eating, saying that change is necessary. “Proper nutrition leads to better study habits, better study habits lead to doing better in your classes and in anything you want to do here at Cerritos College,” he said.

Mark Logan, the director of purchasing, explained that he began looking at the contracts with the current vendors once he found out the students wanted a change. What he found was, only one out of the six vendors has a valid contract, the rest are all expired.

Logan recommended that the board ratify new contracts for all of the current vendors until June 2014 along with notifying them that they may be replaced after that date. He said this would allow time to illicit possible new food service vendors and also allow the opportunity for existing food service vendors to provide a proposal if they wish to stay.

However, students did not seem open to the idea of current vendors remaining, regardless of whether or not they could provide healthier options.

John Tesoriero, the owner of Frantone’s Pizza, attended the meeting to plead with the students and the board to allow Frantone’s to stay.

If the student body wants us to make a subway for them we can make a subway for them… that’s the benefit of dealing with a small business like us,” Tesoriero said.

He reminded the students that they used to communicate with him regularly and complained that they don’t anymore. He said they had once requested vegetarian selections and he had accommodated them while Taco Bell and the other vendors were unable to.

Tesoriero added that Frantone’s already does make, what he considers to be, healthy food. He explained that everything is delivered fresh to the campus three times a day. But students don’t tend to buy the healthy foods.

“I can’t tell you how many orders of chili cheese fries with cheese – nacho cheese on them – I sell,” he said.

He also argued that he has been on the campus for over 20 years and has invested a lot into it. He said that Frantone’s built the building that they now want to “RFP away” from him, and give to other vendors.

He said the work was done under a ‘verbal contract’ with an amortization clause that should guarantee him at least 3 more years in that building in order to earn back the money he put into it. However, no formal contract was ever created.

Although board members agreed with the students in wanting healthier options on campus, they did seem to sympathize with Tesoriero’s situation.

Trustee Carmen Avalos said, “You’ve only done very positive things, and you continue to do that. So on behalf of the community and the college I want to thank you for all that you have done… It seems like there definitely needs to be some follow up and it’s unfortunate that we’re in a situation where we don’t currently have a contract. It seems like you have put a lot of personal investment into this community and into this district.”

The students, on the other hand, appeared to be indifferent to his pleas and seemed more interested in looking for new vendors, like chipotle or subway, than in working with Frantone’s Pizza.

 

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