Radical Roots, U of T’s not-for-profit student-run vegan eatery, is newly homeless after the university discontinued its contract with the outfit May 1.

Ancillary Services, which oversees all food services at the university, cited problems with Radical Roots’ business plan, which they submitted in the early spring. All university food services are required to submit such plans every few years.

Agata Durkalec, financial coordinator of Radical Roots, said that the contract’s cancellation has hit her organization hard.

“After five years of work, if felt like someone had taken a long, metal weapon and broken my back, and this whole organization’s,” she said. “We had spent the last year planning for the coming years. It’s been very disempowering.”

Durkalec suspected that the International Student Centre (ISC) and U of T’s Ancillary Services conspired to oust them, due to “a different vision of what they’d like to see in that space,” she said.

Dermot Brennan, program director at the ISC, which leases the space, admitted that the ISC is able to make some stipulations to Ancillary Services about whom they would like to fill the space. But he maintained that the ISC is and has been supportive of Radical Roots.

“We’re their best advocates,” he said. “We don’t want a big corporate thing in here…. Our first concern is to provide for the needs of international students. That means we want someone who recognizes cultural diversity and is socially conscious,” he said. And, while the relationship with Radical Roots has been “rough around the edges,” said Brennan, it has been “on the whole pretty good.”

Brennan said that he has been trying for months to contact the Radical Roots managers, but that they have hardly been around since April. “I saw one of them in the [ISC] garden a month ago, but that was it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ancillary Services denied having made any effort to replace the organization with another food service provider, rejecting accusations of foul play.

“If the ISC didn’t want them there, we wouldn’t be operating with the assumption that they would be in there; we wouldn’t be giving them the space for free in the summer,” said Gayle McBurnie, manager of Ancillary Services. The issue, she said, lies in Radical Roots’ business plan, which Ancillary Services Director Anne MacDonald deemed unfeasible in May.

“We have decided that further review of the use of the kitchen and dining space in the kitchen is required this summer,” wrote MacDonaldwho was unavailable for comment at press time.

Durkalec, however, remained unconvinced of the claims of goodwill by the ISC and Ancillary Services.

“Our experience of ISC ‘support’ in recent times has actually been more like direct and passive hostility. Not to mention that most ISC staff have never even come to the café to taste the food.”

Radical Roots will meet with Ancillary Services in the coming weeks. If it fails to win a new contract, it will carry on in a changed capacity, said Durkalec, perhaps as a community or teaching kitchen.