United States of America flag and fireworks

July at Sodexo: Independence, Respect and HONOR

Published on : 7/17/23
  • In July, as we celebrate Independence Day, we also honor our active duty, veteran and reserve employees. We’re especially proud and grateful for our employee business resource group, Honoring Our Nation’s finest with Opportunity and Respect (HONOR), which supports our veteran team members and military families.

    RED Friday flag remember everyone deployedOne way HONOR supports veteran team members is through its signature R.E.D. program (Remember Everyone Deployed). This national campaign encourages people to show support for deployed military service personnel by wearing red on the first Friday of every month — in Sodexo’s case, employees wear a R.E.D. logoed T-shirt. Our veteran chefs are also given red coats to honor their sacrifice and service.

    Through HONOR, we also advocate for veterans in our communities. Our employees regularly volunteer at regional Stand Down events, where veterans experiencing homelessness receive hot meals, clothing, hygiene items, haircuts, dental and health screenings, counseling and connections to service providers. We even hired five veterans during a job readiness event at the Veterans Village of San Diego last year. And we actively recruit veterans around the country, partnering with Hire G.I. to attend career fairs at U.S. Army posts.

    Stand up for stand-downs

    To show our appreciation during National Military Appreciation Month in May, HONOR collects letters of thanks to our military service people. This year, we gathered more than 800. In addition, we sponsor Marine Corp fundraising events and scholarships, as well as the National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation’s military programming, which helps military service members transition their skills to foodservice careers.


    A million thanks image

    With all its incredible community work, it’s no surprise HONOR ranked among the top 25 Employee Resource Groups (ERG) during the 2022 Global ERG Summit. Here, we talk to some of our dedicated HONOR leaders about their connection to veterans and the importance of service.

    Krysten Contreras and kid

    Krysten Contreras, HONOR National Program Chair and a General Manager in Government Services, volunteers to honor her husband, a U.S. Marine Corp veteran. She appreciates being part of a strong network that can execute on impactful ideas. “I get very excited when we have a new series or spotlight with HONOR to showcase for all of our employees to gain information or resources,” she says. “I love being able to connect some of our programming and ideas with our other Employee Business Resource Groups within Sodexo and have them come to life.”

    Holly Smith and her daughter

    Holly Smith, Director of Digital Design & Development in NorAm Central Marketing, serves as National Communications Chair. Her son is a Navy lieutenant and Sierra helicopter pilot based out of San Diego. Her daughter is a senior at the Naval Academy with hopes of joining the Marine Corps. “HONOR was a perfect way to service my children, our country and the amazing military veterans and active duty that serve our clients and guests every day at Sodexo!” she says.

    “I wish that all veterans, active duty and first responders are recognized for their service, sacrifice and dedication to our country,” says Holly, who also supports the Travis Manion Foundation, dedicated to empowering veterans and families of the fallen.

    Karina Dalton

    Karina Dalton, National Chair and Lead Project Manager in IS&T Tech & Services, grew up representing the United States overseas. HONOR allows her to continue to support active duty, reserve and veteran communities, she says. “I love this country and deeply value the freedoms we enjoy. Members of all branches of the U.S. military work to safeguard those freedoms every day. Each of them puts aside their personal needs and desires to serve their country.”

    Staci DeSimone and her family

    Staci DeSimone, National Co-chair and General Manager in Campus, is also part of a military family. She wanted to find a way to give back to families and service members, either during deployment, upon return or when readying for a mission. A true believer in listening and learning from people, she wants veterans “to know that there is support available for any reason. Sometimes, it just takes a hand, and you get back so much more.”

    Mark Sigler sitting on a military helicopter

    Mark Sigler, a District Manager II in Government Services, is National Membership Chair. He joined to honor family members who have served; he himself spent 12 years providing basic life support care to active-duty soldiers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere. The work of employee resource groups is incredibly meaningful, he says. “We can play a vital role in addressing pressing issues [such as] hunger and supporting communities ... partnering with similar groups who share the same interest in supporting homeless shelters and events.”

    Mark urges those who want to help to donate to organizations that serve veterans and their families. “Simple acts of gratitude at the end of life can make up for a lack of appreciation or recognition during the veteran’s lifetime, especially for those veterans who were never welcomed home or thanked for their service.”  

    EBRG Award