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Why do Sacramento City College students need permission from a multinational corporation just to hold a bake sale?

How do volunteer organizations raise money? They hold a bake sale, of course. Sacramento City College’s student clubs are no exception.

But recently, students were told by campus administrators that they now must ask multinational food-service corporation Aramark for permission before they can sell tasty treats at their campus fundraisers.

Robyn Waxman, faculty adviser at the City College Farm Club said she wanted to give away popcorn at the farm’s grand opening on September 13. A week before the opening, she was informed she had to request permission from Aramark—which has the exclusive contract to run food services on campus.

The Aramark contract has been in place since 2002, according to Susie Williams, associate vice chancellor of Los Rios Community Colleges.

But student clubs at Sacramento City College say these restrictions weren’t enforced until last spring.

“This is my 16th year at this college, and I’ve had other clubs. There’s always been a tradition of the clubs selling food on campus. Although we have always had the same contract, this is the first year they are enforcing it,” said Waxman.

Under the rules, if student clubs want to sell food on campus, they must use a third-party vendor. If they wish to sell food on campus without that vendor, they must request permission from Aramark to do so three weeks in advance. And Aramark can turn them down.

Students speculated that Aramark—which had $12 billion in revenue last year, according to Forbes magazine, and boasts operations in 22 countries—was just flexing its muscle to protect profits.

But Corine Stofle, public-information officer for the college, said that the school initiated enforcement of the contract, in an effort to ensure they maintain food, health and safety laws. She added that the clubs signed the contract and should have followed the rules from the beginning.

Stofle also said food waste was an issue. Aramark is not able to use the food they have ordered if there is a separate event where food is sold. “Things do have expiration dates, and it’s truly a supplies and waste issue,” Stofle explained.

The clubs argue that they never saw the contract. “It’s like a parent who let their child do something for years, and all of a sudden, they tell them they can’t do it anymore. They should have been enforcing this from day one of that contract,” said Jeff Nakata, co-president of both the honors and psychology clubs.

“Why don’t students have a choice and at least the access to these kinds of contracts?” added Veterans Club president Zach Pierce.

Looking to move forward, the student Inter-Club Council has agreed on a resolution, requesting that students be allowed eight days an academic year to sell food on campus in order to raise money for their clubs.

On these specific dates, Aramark would close the cafeteria during designated hours so they would not waste supplies and manpower.

ICC president Shinesh Prasad doesn’t want the Aramark issue to leave a bad taste in students’ mouths.

“There have been a lot of misconceptions about Aramark and them being this evil demon. But they’re trying to work with us,” he said. “Of course, they are a business, and I do understand their perspective of keeping their revenue and not losing it to clubs. But they have to understand that you’re working with a campus that is filled with culture.”

By the way, Waxman said her request to give out snacks for the Farm Club was ultimately approved. But she told SN&R, “It seemed like an awfully big deal for popcorn.”