As the school’s contract with food provider Aramark nears its expiration date, student leaders and the administration butt heads. PHOTO: STINE DANIELLE

Food feud is skewed

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Comment by Hayden Kenez

As Ryerson nears the end of Aramark’s reign over food on campus, and in the wake of the Toronto Star revealing the school has been covering more than $5.6 million in losses incurred by the for-profit provider, a new plan is both imperative and imminent.

In its way is a raging campus food debate, with the Ryerson Students’ Union urging the school to adopt a co-operative, sustainable food agenda, and the administration intent on a contract with another for-profit provider.

Students couldn’t have asked for more fickle and petty representatives.

Rather than attempting to bridge ideological gaps and usher in a more desirable future for campus food, the school’s governing forces have butted heads.

On one hand, the RSU proposed a plan drastically different from anything Ryerson has ever pursued.

Andrew McAllister, vice-president operations, would like to implement a student-run, student-owned Good Food co-operative, offering students fresh, affordable food. He foresees establishments that would mirror the break-even, co-operative-style of Oakham Café and the Ram in the Rye, and has been leading the fight against another for-profit provider.

Conversely, Ryerson’s administration seems intent on pursuing a more traditional path, opting to either extend a contract to Aramark or find another for-profit enterprise through a Request for Proposal (RFP), which has not yet been issued.

Both plans have faults and have yet to present students with an improved business model: they risk leaving students hungry and dissatisfied in the face of political ambition and complacency with the status quo.

The RSU’s bold plan is a noble ideal, but hardly tenable. Although the administration claims its surveys are extensive, it knows and accepts the financial liabilities that result from partnering with a for-profit provider.

Promising students that another for-profit contract won’t burn them is quite audacious of the administration.

Officials say the new contract will be different, though the only assurance being offered is their word.

Although the Aramark contract’s expiration date approaches, Ryerson students continue to face a bleak future of mediocre and expensive food. While this is hardly a shock and certainly nothing new, an ideological divide and a refusal to negotiate have managed to trump compromise and change.

The school’s leaders have effectively deferred the potential for any positive change to campus food for at least ten years.

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