Sodexo won the contract, originally valued at $881 million, in 2001. But a few things have gone wrong since. In 2007, the company moved to shut down a major "cook-chill" facility in Tennessee, the central hub of their Marine service operation out of which the food was cooked, chilled and transported. The facility had been tagged with numerous health violations including rodent infestation and in June of that year, Sodexo had to recall 2,768 pounds of "ready-to-eat chicken products" that may have been contaminated with Listeria.
Records show that 69 cases of chicken products subject to the recall were sent to two west coast Marine facilities: Camp Pendleton and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
The shutdown was completed in 2008, eliminating one of Sodexo's main sources of cost savings, and the cost of the contract has ballooned to $1.4 billion.
With so much money at stake, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) has asked the Government Accountability Office to take a look at Sodexo's stewardship of the Regional Garrison Food Service Contracts.
There's a military readiness angle too. According to a 2007 Marine Corps report, contracting out domestic food services to Sodexo "had the adverse impact on Food Services Marines core competencies by significantly diminishing training opportunities and leaving Marines unprepared when required to operate mess halls overseas or in an operational environment."
This post has been updated.