Against Crude Food

Concordia Residence and Residents Need to Reevaluate Their Policies

Salad bar at the Grey nuns Residence cafeteria. Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

I live downtown in residence. In order to sign a lease for my dorm, I was required to also sign onto a meal plan totaling $3,800.

Although this seemed like a no-brainer at the time, the initial presentation of the cafeteria proved to be a sham. The quality of the proposed epitome of healthy university eating went down with every meal.

The ultimate issue with Concordia’s residence food service is the inability to break the several-thousand-dollar meal plan if time shows that a student would be better off without it.

I had a friend who moved out of residence during her second semester for a couple reasons, one being the fact that her diet and what was presented at the cafeteria simply didn’t work together. She had to start paying for her own separate groceries on top of the pricy meal plan, which she rarely ever used.

Concordia resident food contracts should have the option to be reevaluated if need be, to avoid unnecessary and outrageous fees to feed a first year university student.

Blatant mislabelling and staff miscommunication when it comes to food is a problem for students with dietary restrictions, vegetarians and vegans. Food providers need to make sure people with restricted diets have food options available to them. For example, on numerous occasions certain items are labeled vegetarian, but are found to be full of meat, like “vegetarian pies” that are actually meat pies.

Something else to mention about the Grey Nuns cafeteria is the hygienic issue. I’m truly disappointed in the fact that two separate videos of bugs in the dining hall have been posted on an unofficial Facebook group, shared by Grey Nuns residence.

On the part of the students, hygiene is an issue too, with neglect to clean up themselves in shared spaces like the kitchenette, so that by the end of the day, the space is not fit to prepare a meal. Open containers of food are left out, bits of food are scattered on the counters, and the sink is clogged to the top with brown water and a thick stack of pans.

The original meal plan contract was changed in late 2015, from which food service workers started prohibiting students from taking even half-eaten sandwiches out of the perimeters of the cafeteria before they were finished.

The original contract states that students can bring one small bakery item out, along with a piece of fruit and a drink in their own provided containers. Due to students taking more than allowed, food service members literally began harassing students, as some students reported being threatened with a call to security if they took something from the cafeteria.

Frankly, I think that’s bullshit. We’re here to study, and not everyone has the time to sit down for an entire meal. Since the cafeteria closes at 9:30 p.m., students might need a snack to last them through the night. The contract was restored back to its original form after some discussion.

Communication is a huge problem for the Grey Nuns food service. Food service meetings are held and students, residence advisors and food service managers are supposed to meet to discuss issues that need to be brought to light. According to one RA, there have been five food service meetings since the beginning of the year, and not one resident has been in attendance despite encouragement from residence administration to come and voice their concerns.

If residents want to see real change when it comes to their food, they should attend meetings where their voices can be heard. I admit I’m just as guilty by not taking the opportunity to speak to managers about concerns.

Concordia should reevaluate their meal plan contract procedures, and food service managers need to be ready to fix the problems apparent on a daily basis.

On the other hand, residents should put the same amount of respect into the cafeteria as they want out of it, which includes making sure to clean up after themselves, and not take unreasonable amount of food out of the cafeteria at one time.

To help bring change, residents should share their comments at the next food meeting on Feb. 17 in GN-E104, not just on Facebook.