McGill and students in food fight
By Dan Perry
Administration at McGill University is rumoured to be proposing
the consolidation of its food services, a possibility that
has one student group up in arms.
According to Jennifer Robinson, associate vice-principal communications
at McGill, repatriation of food services began approximately
four years ago when the university began negotiating agreements
with various student groups operating food services at the
“We’re at a point right now when all contracts
will have expired at the end of August,” she said, adding
a move to a single service provider is one of several options
the university is considering.
In protest, several students have mobilized on the issue,
creating the Coalition for Action on Food Services. Engineering
Undergraduate Society VP-internal affairs Shane Saunderson
is one student who joined CAFS.
“Now [McGill] has a situation where they have the opportunity
to take over all of the [cafeterias] on campus and create a
food services monopoly,” he said, noting that the EUS’s
cafeteria was one of the last student-run cafeterias McGill
“This is the reason the EUS got involved; there was
very little negotiation,” he added.
“Much of the tender, we fear, has been offered to Chartwells,” Saunderson
said, noting the move appears tailored to that particular service
provider, who, he added, already runs eight of the 16 cafeterias
Ross Munro, VP of Chartwells Educational Dining, explained
the relationship between McGill and the food service provider: “Our
business is [food services], however, it’s only the request
of a particular client that would make these opportunities
“There are no negotiations ongoing,” he said.
“People got the impression the decision was made to go
to a single service provider, but the decision has not been made
yet,” Robinson said, noting the university could have been
clearer with its intentions.
“Everybody cares about quality; some students are concerned
their interests aren’t being listened to,” she
said. “We’re listening to what students have to
say, and in the process of deciding what the university will
According to Saunderson, CAFS’s activities to date have
consisted of a poster and media campaign, a 7,500-signature
petition, CAFS’s free food booth set up outside three
of McGill’s highest-traffic cafeterias and hosting a
panel discussion, which he said administration chose not to