Students Urge Sodexo to Go “Cage-Free”

The Sexy Green Truck outside the Student Center touts its use of cage-free eggs. Temple Dining Services plans to add cage-free to next year’s budget.

The Sexy Green Truck outside the Student Center touts its use of cage-free eggs. Temple Dining Services plans to add cage-free to next year’s budget.

October 13, 2009 by Andy Whitlatch

The University of Pennsylvania and the State of California are cage-free. Organizations gathered 4,000 signatures for Temple to follow suit.

CORY POPP TTN The Sexy Green Truck outside the Student Center touts its use of cage-free eggs. Temple Dining Services plans to add cage-free to next year’s budget.

Three Temple student organizations are campaigning against university dining services’ use of battery-caged eggs in the cafeteria. The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, Environmental Law Society and the Promoters of Animal Welfare issued a policy paper imploring the university to go cage-free, according to a new Web site, cagefreetemple.com.

Battery-cage egg farms aim to produce mass quantities of eggs for food distributors, so hens are kept in smaller cages that often are stacked on top of each other in a warehouse, the cage-free Temple site says. Birds can live in close proximity to other birds’ waste and can develop sores from rubbing against the confined cages, the site adds.

“It’s wrong. [Temple University Dining Services] shouldn’t buy them,” freshman Spanish major Tara Woody said.

The Web site says more than 4,000 students have signed the petition, the form for which can be found on the site’s homepage, for Temple to go cage-free.

Former Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, now a political science professor at the university, said he was lobbied by students to get involved as well and wrote a letter to Temple’s dining services.

“I have a responsibility to encourage people,” Street said. “It’s our responsibility to treat animals humanely. We really could do better.”

University Dining Services are supplied by Sodexo, Inc., the self-declared “leading provider of integrated food and facilities management services in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.” The company serves “10 million customers in 6,000 locations every day,” according to its Web site. Though other top Sodexo-run institutions, such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, have gone cage-free, Temple has yet to do so.

In a meeting with students from PAW, Temple University Dining Services representatives said they’re including cage-free eggs in the budget for the 2010-11 academic year. The budget has been submitted to Temple, and students are awaiting a decision from university officials.

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and the Compass Group, one of the largest food service providers in the United States, have both gone cage-free, Cage-Free Temple says.

“If all the other universities are going cage-free, why shouldn’t Temple?” Woody said.

California became the first state in the nation to outlaw cages that confine egg-laying hens and put a ban on restrictive pens for veal calves and pregnant cows, according to the Los Angeles Times. The law, effective in 2015, will affect the state’s 20 million egg-laying hens.

Opponents said it will be economically disastrous for California egg producers.

“Society needs to come into the 21st century with some of these things,” Street said. “All we can do is urge people to do the right thing. It’s very difficult to judge the economic impact of these things.”
Students like junior BTMM major Lukas Hagendorf agreed that money plays a major role in the deciding of the issue but said he believes times have changed.

“It’s the capitalistic idea in this country to get everything mass produced,” Hagendorf said, “and it’s really not that way anymore.”

Andy Whitlatch can be reached at andy.whitlatch@temple.edu.