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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Sodexo’s Recipe for Sustainability

April 20, 2023

WWU and Sodexo Partner in Sustainability

Kudzai Mhondiwa

Established in Marseille, France in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, Sodexo serves as a multi-functional company which operates within the food, facilities, and home services industry in 56 countries. Through its various services, Sodexo supplies its resources to more than 100 million consumers. [1] 

Walla Walla University’s Kellogg Hall relies on the company as a larger client in dining services for students, faculty, and the community within the Walla Walla valley.  

Michael Benca, general manager and interim head chef of Sodexo’s on-campus cafeteria, weighed in on the sustainable efforts the company has set fourth since his transition from Georgia in November of 2019.   

“We are collaborating with the University’s CHE department, providing them with buckets [and] materials [for] compost,” as well as collaborating with “the Christian Aid Center here in town and [donating] usable product that they can feed to the homeless.” [2]  

Sodexo not only supports WWU but also the local community, including the homeless population, recorded to be 221 back in 2021. [3] 

Benca went on to report some recent direct initiatives made by Sodexo in partnership with the University by saying, “The last two years I have received a grant for the University’s Eden’s Pantry; $1,000 last year, and [a] $1,000 check the year before. I filled the application out and it was awarded by our company to support Eden’s Pantry on campus.” [4] 

Founded by former university pastor and theology professor Troy Fitzgerald, Eden’s Pantry has been an active church outreach program that provides a variety of free and healthy food to students and community members that cannot afford to purchase food on their own. 

In addition to partnering with on-campus departments, Benca and the Sodexo team are planning on supporting local farmers within the Walla Walla Valley: “[Sodexo and] I will start engaging with locally harvested Frog Hollow Farm produce seasonally throughout the year, and that means something that’s harvested within a 100–125 mile radius of where you’re cooking and serving that product.” [5] 

A key point to consider is Sodexo’s reduction in transportation emissions by outsourcing from local farms. This is congruent with the company statement that it is committed to “reducing its carbon emissions by 34% by 2025 compared to 2017; to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” [6] 

Nevertheless, the cafeteria continues to serve over 1,000 students, faculty, and staff on campus, providing a total of 19 meals a week, a task that many would find overbearing, but Benca defined his team's mission behind their operation by saying, “We are a part of your livelihood, your day-to-day living on campus, and my goal is to strive to make it better so that it feels like a home away from home for everybody.” [7] 


  1. Learn more about us. (n.d.). Sodexo USA. 
  2. Interview with Michael Benca, 4/13/2023. 
  3. FAQ. (n.d.) Walla Walla Alliance for the Homeless. 
  4. Interview with Micahel Benca, 4/13/2023. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. Environmental sustainability. (n.d.). Sodexo USA. 
  7. Interview with Micahel Benca, 4/13/2023. 
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