Following a food and safety inspection Nov. 24, the Handschumacher Dining Hall, managed by SodexoMAGIC, was cited having nine food safety violations. This sudden spike in code violations was part of the first of a wave of a new city-wide release policy that requires restaurant health and safety inspections to be published within 24 hours of the visit by Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
From 10:25 a.m. to 3 p.m., a city health inspector combed the dining hall and noted unsanitary conditions and corrected poor service practices. A number of violations were discovered, including the presence of faulty machinery, improper food storage and preparation, and mouse droppings. It should be noted that each of these missteps was marked as a new violation, implying that the Hans has not had these problems in the past.
In response to the less-than-immaculate report, Jackelyn Gemenden, the Director of Retail Management at Drexel, said that the dining hall has taken action to remedy the situation.
“Drexel Campus Dining and SodexoMAGIC take the November 24, 2015 findings of the Philadelphia Board of Health report for the Handschumacher Dining Center very seriously,” Gemenden said.
“Several of the items were corrected on site in the presence of the inspectors and the remaining violations were resolved over the Thanksgiving break. It is standard practice for the Philadelphia Board of Health to re-inspect the location within 30 days,” she continued.
Prior to 2015, the Board of Health did not release their reports to the public until 30 days after the initial inspection, allowing for restaurants to correct any mistakes or risk factors before being checked again and given a revised score. This was changed when citizen complaints arose around the fact that Philadelphia was the only major city in the country to abide by this policy. Originally, this 30-day policy was designed to encourage the education of restaurant owners or managers, and the consequential improvement of their business. The change is evidenced by the Hans’ 2014 report, in which the establishment was cited with only one violation.
Regardless of the impact of this new policy change, many students are displeased, if not unsurprised, with the results of the Hans’ health and safety inspection report. Among these students is Freshman Ian Donahue, a frequent visitor of the Hans.
“I’m not really surprised… the food’s not amazing, it’s just cafeteria food basically. I just come back because of my meal plan. You could always go to Urban [Eatery] instead but I come here because there’s lots of variety,” Donahue admitted. In reflecting on the fact that the Hans will be inspected again in a month for a follow-up, he remained cautiously optimistic. “Everyone should get a second chance, but obviously if they mess up a second time, they’re obviously not trying to fix anything.”
Sophomore Isaac Quelly, on the other hand, expressed his frustration with being limited to the Hans as a student dining hall, especially after learning of the potential risks involved.
“As the son of a caterer, I am offended by the food quality. It’s a place where I come to get my fresh vegetables and salad bar, and the other options don’t give me vegetables,” Quelly explained. “I would love compensation, but I did sign up for the meal plan and it’s not required as a Sophomore. But I feel like the exclusiveness of Sodexo is really overwhelming,” Quelly continued, mentioning the dining hall’s managing caterers.
SodexoMAGIC, a partner company divided between Sodexo Inc. and Magic Johnson Enterprises, manages the Hans, and is responsible for the maintenance and safety of the dining hall.
“Drexel University will continue to hold SodexoMAGIC accountable to the terms of the contract and to the standards that are in the best interests of our students and the university community,” Gemenden said, on the subject of Drexel and Sodexo’s relationship. “SodexoMAGIC has increased internal and external health and safety auditing controls and is retraining staff as needed.”
Nonetheless, certain students, including McCarry Papula, have almost developed a fear of the dining hall following the release of the health report.
“Having the Hans as one of the main places that we eat, it’s kind of scary, then. There are people who talk about getting sick from the Hans every so often, and that would totally explain why,” Paula said. “Our only other meal swipe option is Urban, I feel like they should probably get that fixed. I can only imagine what would have happened when there wasn’t Urban, kids would have had even more reason to be angry about this,” she continued.
However, despite the seemingly poor state of Drexel’s main dining hall and the outcry from students, the Hans is far from being an actual health risk.
“It is important to note that the Philadelphia Board of Health did not find the violations concerning enough to close the Handschumacher Dining Center and it is currently running normal business hours,” Gemenden said, reiterating the fact that the Hans is continuing function without any forced intervention by the health department.