In the Student Budget Consultation, students identified food services as a priority for improvement this year – and the previous three years. Over these years, the Students’ Union worked hard to bring attention to the issues through the Hungry for Choice campaign. This ultimately lead to a campus Food Service Review in 2018 that put the campus on the path to food service that truly meets community needs.

Food service issues have included variety, options, and dietary accommodations; price, quality, and value; hours of operation; dining spaces and amenities; and diversity of food providers. And the Food Service Review made recommendations to address each issue.

For 2020/21, TRU has reported few specific initiatives, but is broadly committed to continuing the implementation of the Review recommendations. In its response, TRU management highlighted many of those changes, which have already led to increases in student satisfaction. Based on this record, you should be able look forward to even better eating on campus!

On variety, options, and dietary accommodations, a lot of progress has been made through expanded menu offerings as well as more opportunities to build-your-own meals. A big gap that the community highlighted for breakfast meals has been filled. Now, TRU is focused on getting the word out about these options.

Recommendation: Increase food variety, options, and accommodations

TRU Response: TRU will continue to explore and implement a variety of food options to ensure dietary requirements, allergies, ethical, and cultural needs are accommodated

  • TRU is currently offering more vegetarian (58), vegan (38), gluten-free (48), dairy-free, and Halal (17) meal options across campus
  • Build-your-own options have been expanded at multiple locations to allow customers to tailor meals to their needs and add variety
  • Hot breakfast options have been added at the U&M Deli and The Den
  • Menus are adjusted annually to align with changing demands and food trends
  • TRU will explore ways to better communicate food options at each location

Food price, quality, and value is one the harder issues to tackle, and TRU has focused its improvements on quality and value through more fresh-made and build-your-own options. In 2020/21, TRU is looking to work on pricing through exclusive deals in the Dining Card Program.

Recommendation: Improve food price, value, and quality

TRU Response: TRU will continue to monitor pricing based on cost of good and market comparison, and continue to offer quality meal options

  • TRU evaluates pricing, value and quality of items on a continuous basis
  • Average meal prices on campus range from $3.99 to $9.50
  • 90% of items on menus are made fresh (up 10% from last year)
  • Build-your-own options have been expanded at multiple locations to increase value and quality
  • TRU will enhance the Dining Card Program to include monthly exclusive deals

Food service hours of operation have seen some of the biggest improvements in the last year or more, notably in the morning to provide breakfast options as well as gradually stretching into the afternoons and evenings. However, any further expansion (or reduction) in 2020/21 will depend on business operations.

Recommendation: Extend food service hours of operation

TRU Response: TRU will continue to monitor demand, feedback, sales and number of transactions for each location and adjust hours of operation as needed

  • The U&M Deli (Old Main) added two morning hours, but reduced by half an hour in the afternoon
  • Bento Sushi (Old Main) added two afternoon hours
  • Tim Hortons (HoL) added one evening hour four days a week
  • The Workbench (Trades) added half an hour in the afternoon four days a week
  • The Urban Market (CAC) added half an hour in the afternoon four days a week
  • The Den (CAC) added one and a half morning hours

Dining spaces have also seen improvements through three major renovations in The Den, Old Main Student Street, and The Workbench (in Trades). In 2020/21, TRU is looking to the new Nursing and Population Health Building as a new food service site. Unfortunately, this will also have to serve to replace the loss of food service in the Science Building. And so far, the most important dining space recommendation – a dining hall – is not on the horizon yet.

Recommendation: Enhance food services spaces and amenities

TRU Response: TRU will continue to evaluate food service locations in regard to how to best serve the campus

  • Starbucks (Old Main) updated the seating package throughout Student Street to be more attractive and a better study/social environment
  • The Workbench (Trades) was completely redesigned in Winter 2018 with a new seating package
  • The Den (CAC) was completely redesigned to create a better social space through a variety of seating from large social tables to quiet corners and increased electrical outlets
  • TRU is exploring a food service option for the Nursing and Population Health building opening in 2020

Finally, one of students’ most longstanding requests for more, independent food service providers is seeing some progress with local food sourcing, subcontracted outlets, and – the crowd-favourite – food trucks. Expansion of food trucks and other options are on the table for 2020/21.

Recommendation: Broaden the diversity of food service providers

TRU Response: TRU will continue to increase local food options, look to expand food truck offerings, and improve related communications

  • The former Upper Level Café (Old Main) has become a full Bento Sushi, subcontracted to operate the location to offer a fuller menu
  • BC food sourcing was increased by 21% over the last year
  • Food truck presence has been improved with a dedicated webpage for vendor applications and requests for community events – vendors have increased by one this year
  • TRU is working with mobile food vendors and exploring other options to support food diversity on campus

To see the full response to your priorities on food services, click here.

To stay up-to-date on all of TRU’s responses to your priorities, check out the Student Budget Consultation webpage!