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The Caf creates community at CMU

Sodexo contribution celebrates more than three decades of partnership

When walking through Colorado Mesa University’s campus, there’s a sense of community, a feeling of togetherness. When building, renovating or upgrading campus, CMU strategically develops spaces in a way that helps the sense of community thrive. So when it came to updating the dining facility known as The Caf, CMU’s goal was to stay community focused.

A partnership spanning longer than three decades, Colorado Mesa University and Sodexo worked together to give The Caf new life. With Sodexo’s $1,000,000 contribution to the new student dining project, CMU’s central theme of community came to fruition.

"The current generation is very community minded," said Sodexo Manager Mathew Dokoupil. "We designed The Caf with neighborhood themes and the intent of making The Caf feel like an extension of a living space. CMU and Sodexo have created a dining area that should support student connection for years to come."

On September 5, the grand reopening brought CMU President Tim Foster, Vice President of Student Services John Marshall, the Sodexo team, students and CMU faculty together to celebrate the changes.

CMU Director of Budgets and Food Service Programs Whitney Sutton, spoke during the event highlighting features and providing project background for attendees regarding the current upgrades and announced more changes ahead for the coming year.

"Students tell me they like the space and are pleased with the new features," said Sutton. "It’s fun to be able to tell them we are just getting started and that the serving area upgrades will be completed next year and will be just as meaningful for their dining experience."

During the event, the Sustainability Council gave away 500 reusable to-go containers to kick off the new program, Green2go. They say every day The Caf goes through 350 styrofoam to-go containers. That’s almost 3,000 pounds of waste a year. The goal is for students to pay a one-time fee of $2 and they get a container. After they eat, they turn it back into The Caf until the next time they need it.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of Sodexo,” said Sustainability Council Vice President, Ian Thomas. "This program helps fiscally, environmentally and socially.”

While Thomas handed out resusable containers, Foster and Marshall handed out dessert. They went around to students and visited the various neighborhoods of The Caf and asked students what they thought of the upgrades.

"I like to think that working with and speaking directly to students has been a cornerstone of my tenure as president at CMU," said Foster. "Serving them conveys the appreciation I have for what they each bring to our campus as Mavericks."

Students noted the community-minded design and enjoyed the additional features, which include white boards for collaboration, compartmentalized areas for socializing, a fireplace, games and other neighborhood boundaries giving each section of The Cafe a unique sense of place.

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Written by Kelsey Coleman