Sodexo spends $4,300 on fender blender bikes


Imagine students pedaling on exercise bikes in the middle of the dining hall to make their own smoothies. 

Despite student concerns, this will become a reality on Augustana’s campus. 

The Augustana dining hall recently purchased two pedal-powered blenders that will be added to the Odal Dining Hall in upcoming weeks. 

Damian Lewis, the general manager of the dining hall, decided to purchase two Fender Blender Pros from Rock the Bike, a company located in California.

The estimated cost of the two bikes and additional blenders is $4,300. The cost of the bikes will be paid from the dining hall’s internal budget, using money set aside for equipment.  

Lewis first saw the bikes at a trade show. 

Students are hesitant of the new pedal-powered blenders. Many believe that the money could be used in other areas of the dining hall.

Junior Grace Fjellanger believes that the money used for the bikes would be better spent on getting a new conveyor belt for the dining hall.

“There are constantly dishes being piled up, which makes it hard for students and workers,” Fjellanger said.

Jonas Gjesdal, ASA Housing and Dining Committee chair, has received many student inquiries about getting electric blenders in the commons, but did not work with Lewis on this project. 

“This is totally independent from ASA,” Gjesdal said. 

Gjesdal does not know how the students will react to the introduction of these new bikes, but he continues to work to get electric blenders in the commons. 

Fjellanger, also a member of ASA, thought that this project should have been brought to the senate floor.

“I think that dining should have consulted ASA for opinions,” Fjellanger said.

When Gjesdal brought the idea of electric blenders to Lewis, the pedal-powered blenders were already ordered. The new bikes were then discussed in a meeting among the student senators.

“I think the consensus is that, yeah, [the bikes are] going to be fun in the beginning but then [they] will die down,” Gjesdal said. 

Sophomore Emily Novotny said she is concered about the priorities of the dining hall. 

“It is extremely frustrating the dinning services in the Commons would value getting pedal powered blenders over getting more options for those with dietary needs,” Novotny said. 

Students are not the only ones with concerns. Lewis recognizes that these bikes will come with some challenges. 

The noise level, product waste and missing blenders are all trade-offs that Lewis mentioned.

The bikes make less noise than an electric blender, but could still be bothersome for those who study in the Commons. Lewis also struggles with students taking cups and other items from the commons on a regular basis, and said these blenders might provoke students to take even more cups out of the dining hall. 

The bikes will be in the commons on a varying schedule.  

“They might come in for a couple weeks during a month, and then we’ll let them rest for a couple weeks during the month, and then bring them back just to keep it fresh,” Lewis said. 

This new addition is a learning process for Lewis, dining staff and students. Lewis mentioned things such as location of the bikes, cleaning blenders and supervision as things the dining staff and students will have to adjust to.  

“It’s all learning,” Lewis said. “We’re going to find out in the next couple weeks how it’s going to work.”

Finding an effective way to have the bikes supervised by staff and to keep the blenders washed will take time and practice. 

Senior Berkley Darr is interested to see how many students will use the bikes.

“I think that, right away, they will be a hit, but it will wear off quickly,” Darr said. 

Lewis said he hopes to use these bikes to enhance fan experiences at events like football games and letting UBG use them for certain events. 

Darr was more optimistic about this use.

“Students would have so much fun with these bikes at student events,” Darr said. “They would be more effective if they only used them on special occasions.” 

A common question raised by both Darr and Gjesdal was the location of the bikes. Many students already feel cramped in the dining hall.

Lewis pictures the two bikes being placed in the gap behind the special diets cooler, hoping that these news bikes will help the traffic flow in the commons 

The bikes have been on hold due to production and shipping. The dining hall was originally planning on unveiling the bikes after Spring Break but are currently waiting on production of the models they ordered.    

These two bikes will be wrapped with the Augustana University logo.

These Rock the Bike blenders mesh well with Augustana’s current dining hall additions, Lewis said. They have already introduced their own pasta machine and tower gardens. 

“It’s all about health and wellness,” Lewis said.

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