As the university transitions to in-house food services on the St. George campus, significant changes are coming to the available food options for students.
The changes come after the university’s contract with Aramark expired on July 31. The contract expiry sparked rallies led by UNITE HERE members, the union which represented food services workers under the Aramark contract.
While some franchises, such as most of the Starbucks and Tim Hortons locations, will stay open under the new U of T management, others will be replaced by alternative dining options. The Subway in the Robarts Library food court will be traded for a campus brand serving Mexican dishes called Tortillas and the Athletic Centre Starbucks has also closed.
In a conversation with The Varsity, Director of Ancillary Services Anne MacDonald explained that the changes were motivated by the aims of creating healthier and more diverse options for students.
“[The University will] focus on more production on campus. The more on campus, the fresher it is, and the healthier it is,” explained MacDonald. “The more options we can put in front of students and other people on campus. You can change up the menu more if you’re doing it all yourself.”
Students may already be familiar with the campus-operated Grab’n’Go, which will be expanding its menu to include a greater range of options. This includes a promise to reduce the amount of processed foods, and substitute them with fresh alternatives.
A similar plan will be implemented in the New College and Chestnut Residence dining halls, which will introduce more variety to the menu. Students with flex dollars will receive 10 per cent off at these locations in the coming school year.
Three new brands will be opening on campus. This month, Pasta Pappardelle, which is a ‘make your own pasta’ joint, will be opening in the Robarts food court. Despite the fact that Pasta Pappardelle is a new brand, MacDonald said that it would build on what was popular about the pasta place that Aramark operated in Robarts. It will be joined by Za’atar, which features a range of different cuisines from the Mediterranean. Za’atar will also open a second location in the Medical Sciences Building.
In September, Urban Deli and Stone Oven Pizzeria will also open in the Robarts Food Court. Urban Deli is a new custom sandwich shop, while Stone Oven already has a location in the MSB and serves traditional-style pizza. According to MacDonald, all of the new brands and locations will be run by experienced chefs, and will utilize locally produced ingredients when available.