This year, the campus community has a rare opportunity to have a say in how and what we eat on campus – the food service contract is expiring. But this is also an opportunity that TRU administration will keep behind closed doors if we don’t demand a voice.
For the past two years, students have clearly identified food on campus as a priority area for improvement. In the February 2016 Student Budget Consultation survey, 51% of respondents were dissatisfied with food service. In the February 2017 survey, dissatisfaction was 59%.
Consistently, students have called for variety and options to satisfy appetites, nutritional needs, and dietary restrictions. For better value and food quality for the prices paid. For extended hours of operation to support and expand campus activity. For shorter lines and faster service. Most importantly, students have lost a fundamental trust that our food services can or will respond to their needs.
That’s why the Students’ Union launched the Hungry for Choice campaign.
The vast majority of food services at TRU are provided by one contracted company. Last year, the Hungry for Choice campaign called on TRU to hold that company to a higher standard by giving the campus community choice and consumer power through competition. Resulting improvements such as the addition of food trucks have been important.
However, this campaign is about much more than any one concern, one company, or one change. It is about respecting the role of food in community – and the role community deserves in our food. Food shapes our health. It fuels our success in class and at work. It is part of who we are and our diverse cultures. It supports the vibrant campus life TRU has committed to build. That’s why we deserve a voice in shaping our campus food services!
This is our chance to claim that voice. The current food service contract is set to expire in the summer of 2018.
The Students’ Union has been working since June to make sure that chance doesn’t slip through our fingers, or simply be hidden from us until it is too late. We asked the Director of Ancillary Services to provide the current food services contract and an explanation of how and when the contract might be renewed or replaced so that we might all participate. For two months we were delayed and denied. When we pressed a final time at the beginning of August, responses from TRU stopped altogether.
As a last resort, the Students’ Union filed an application under the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, to have the food service contract made public. Our application was received July 19, but TRU has taken the longest possible time within the law to respond. The contract will not be released until December 04 at the earliest, if at all, and may still be heavily redacted.
We need your help. If we don’t act now, the food services contract could be renewed for another five years or a new contract could be signed for years more without input from the campus community.
This our food, our choice, and our contract. Join the call for a campus consultation to shape any new or renewed food service contract(s). Sign the petition below and find out more at trusu.ca/hungry-for-choice.
President of the TRU Students’ Union