News | Mendelson defends residence dining changes

With the cafeteria at Royal Victoria College (RVC) closed, and the kitchen at the new Carrefour residence still undergoing renovations, McGill’s new food service system has faced significant obstacles. But Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson said that McGill’s decision to merge the previous system, which was run by Food Services and Ancillary Services, into a consolidated system under the purview of his office will ultimately be an improvement.

“Students are the most important group of clients, and food locations are social spaces, integral to residences. That was the reason why the two areas were merged,” said Mendelson.

McGill residences have also moved to a declining balance system, in which funds allocated to meals are deducted with each item purchased. The system was implemented in order to reduce food waste and provide students with greater options.

Mathieu Laperle, Director of McGill Food and Hospitality Services, backed the new system, saying that previously, students paid a fixed price for their meal plan, and were not reimbursed for meals they missed. He added that less food will be wasted under the new system, and that students will be given more options.

In response to complaints that the cost of food at McGill residences is too high, the average price of a meal at Upper Rez cafeterias was dropped by $2 last week.

“Price is always a challenge and [we try] to have a balance between good food and an affordable price,” said Laperle. “If you go to the grocery store by yourself, you see that food is more expensive than it was before.”

Mendelson commented that because the University is underfunded, food operations at McGill have to be financially self-sufficient.

“A lot of direct and indirect costs have to be supported,” Mendelson said.

Laperle said that the University has taken measures to redress the current problems by altering RVC meal plans so that residents can eat at all McGill and Martlet locations on campus.

According to Mendelson, Carrefour residents are to be refunded $250 of their rent per month, and given a $100 gift card to purchase food at Martlet locations.

Laperle said that he would work to address student concerns and to make more options available.

Students can submit comments and suggestions to the McGill Food and Hospitality Services web site, and student-led food committees will be established in the coming weeks.

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