Students across the country have been boycotting Sodexho Marriott Services, the catering company contracted by Temple and other universities across the nation to provide dining services to their students.
The protests are part of a student-led campaign called “Not with our Money!” which is part of the larger Prison Moratorium Project. Students are protesting the growing involvement of the French multinational company Sodexho Alliance in the global private prison industry.
Students at various schools have staged protests, which range from sit-ins to outdoor picnic boycotts against corporations that finance the expansion of prisons-for-profit. Sodexho protests have taken place on more than 50 of the 500 campuses where the company operates dining halls and food courts.
Kevin Pranis, a Board member and coordinator for the Prison Moratorium Project, said that the actual protests against Sodexho started over a year ago with ten schools protesting, in some form, on April 4. Of those ten original schools, four now use dining services other than Sodexho. In more recent events, protests at a number of schools have increased the number of victories. Some schools have broken their contracts with Sodexho early and others have called off talks with the company.
“Clearly, the company has been forced to respond,” Pranis said. He added that Sodexho has said it will sell its shares in the CCA, but that has yet to happen.
The project originally targeted just the New York area, but that quickly enlarged to much of the United States and most recently to London and Paris.
The PMP exists still as a resource for interested college and university organizations. Pranis said that at the current time, actually going out and setting up events at campus is difficult and nearly all the recent organizations that have pledged support to the protests have been the one to contact the project.
These organizations are a wide variety, ranging from student governments to sweatshop activists and even culturally oriented groups.
Sodexho is one of the world’s largest private prison catering services. It is also the largest shareholder in the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs for-profit private prisons in which numerous human rights violations against inmates and guards allegedly occur.
If these private prisons can make housing inmates cheaper than what the federal government pays, then the prison can pocket the profit, which proves to be appealing to Sodexho who has shares in the CCA.
In order to conserve money, the CCA has reportedly resorted to such tactic as, supplying inmates with only one blanket, no toilet paper, withholding pre-natal care for pregnant inmates and in worst cases depriving ill inmates of proper medical attention.
For-profit prisons operate by charging the federal government money for the housing of each prisoner in the private prison.
Through grant money, the “Not With Our Money” campaign has expanded to numerous campuses and is working to discontinue Sodexho contracts across the country. They believe that profiteering from the imprisonment of people compromises public safety and is a corruption of justice.
Students across America, not excluding Temple students, purchase Sodexho Marriott meal plans, thereby supporting the Sodexho Alliance and its private for-profit prisons, according to the protest group. Across the country students have promoted change in discontinuing their Sodexho Marriott contract due to their CCA affiliation.
Sodexho Marriott Services generates $1.2 billion in annual revenues not only from college campuses, but also provides institutional food services to public schools, hospitals and corporate cafeterias.