RSU: Internalize Campus Food Services

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Photo by Hannah Logan

[R]yerson students often find themselves at odds when looking for healthy food choices at Ryerson. While the student-run Ram in the Rye and Oakham café offer some nutritional dishes, the options are still limited. And with the expiration of Ryerson’s Aramark Food Services contract looming near in 2013, the RSU is suggesting that internalized campus food services is the way to go.

“When we eat bad food, we aren’t going to perform very well in the classroom,” said Andrew McAllister, Ryerson Student’s Union vice president of operations, at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday Nov. 22 in the Student Centre.

McAllister focused on the need for nutritious and affordable on-campus food choices, but complaints and input from students were also considered. The most common complaints included objections centering on poor nutritious options, overpriced and small portions, and the lack vegetarian, vegan, halal, and kosher meals. Unreasonable hours of operations were also discussed.

Everyone in attendance agreed that the food available at Oakham and the Ram is preferable to that at other locations. It is this type of blunt student response that the RSU hopes will impact Ryerson’s decision when looking to sign another contract, which would yet again leave campus food as an outsourced responsibility.

The expiration of the Aramark contract provides an ideal opportunity for McAllister and the RSU to approach Ryerson. The university will be deciding criteria for companies that want to run the campus eateries. In early January, the companies will be able offer their proposals, which will be under review from February to March. And in March, Ryerson will have signed yet another contract.

Unfortunately, it appears to the RSU that Ryerson has already decided on outsourcing, without allowing for any student input. McAllister said that such decisions are made “behind the scenes, at closed door meetings.”

The RSU’s proposal will incorporate suggestions that the RSU receives through the survey they are currently distributing (also available online), the feedback from town hall meetings, and their own thoughts. McAllister described the document as a type of business case on why Ryerson would be better off internalizing food services.

“Personally, I would like to see an independent food service run,” said McAllister, adding that food could be drawn from local farmers and students could run the establishments. He would also like to see a cooking and food-storage space created for commuters.

Rodney Diverlus, RSU President, spent two years living in the Pitman Hall, so he knows the pitfalls of currently have a meal plan in residence. He described the meal plan as “awful” and the food as “empty.” Diverlus, a theatre and dance student, thinks the meal plan is especially “bad for people who need to be on point.”

The survey can be filled out online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ryersonfood