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March 28, 2002 A transformation at food services



by Barbara Black

It’s time for a change in the way meals are offered to students on campus.

Thanks to an evaluation done by a committee of staff and students early this year, renovations to the food service areas on both campuses are part of the university’s negotiations for the next food services contract, now underway.

Perhaps the most urgent need is on the Loyola Campus, where the students who live in residence throughout the school year eat all their meals.

“We went to talk to the students and look at the situation,” said Patricia Posius, acting director of Auxiliary Services. By all accounts, she and her colleague, Johanne de Cubellis, assistant director of Auxiliary Services, got an earful.

The food plan had been rigid by comparison with most university plans, Posius said, and over the past year, it had become more so. To make matters worse, residence students were badly shaken by a food-poisoning incident last fall that was due partly to an equipment breakdown and partly to human error.

The food plan was made more flexible, and both the university and the current food services provider, Sodexho, did their best to help the students.

There were already issues of space, ambience, nutrition and variety of the food offered. The university decided that it was time to “see what’s out there,” in de Cubellis’s phrase. As a result, the contract is being opened as widely as possible to bidders from the admittedly specialized world of institutional food service providers.

Sodexho, known formerly as Marriott, has provided food services at Concordia for 29 years.

Meanwhile, on the Sir George Williams Campus, a student soup kitchen called The People’s Potato has been operating for two years, with the support and cooperation of the university, and now shares space and facilities with Sodexho on the 7th floor of the Hall Building.

Zev Tiefenbach (People’s Potato) and Bilal Hamideh (Muslim Student Association) have proposed a student-run multi-ethnic food court that would be a commercial operation, not a soup kitchen. Posius said that the university likes this concept so much that it has been included in the specifications for the new food services contract. The operators of The People’s Potato, with other student associations, have been invited to submit a business plan for the venture.

The current contract ends May 31, and an announcement is likely around that time. You can expect to see major changes in many aspects of food services, regardless of the provider chosen — including food spaces, common student spaces, menus and catering.