Despite widely publicized mobilization around the closure of the Architecture Café at the beginning of the academic year, student-run food outlets on campus have not seen a significant increase in business.
Jordana Weiss, U3 Arts, has worked at Snax, the student-run food outlet of the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS), for two and a half years.
“It was nuts,” she said of sales at the beginning of the year, though it is “less now, because the whole boycott [of McGill Food and Dining Services, MFDS] kind of died down.”
Majd Al Khaldi, AUS VP Finance, claimed that the increase in Snax sales following Arch Café protests only lasted two weeks.
“There was an increase in sales,” he said, “but not necessarily in our revenues.” Snax is being run more efficiently this year due to better record keeping and management, but has not seen a drastic change in profits. Prices were increased last semester “out of necessity” for the first time in two or three years. Even so, another increase may be necessary to keep the coffee shop out of the red.
Al Khaldi noted that Snax, though under the jurisdiction of AUS, has separate management and thus has not been affected by AUS, financial troubles this year.
Etienne De Muelenaere, VP Finance for the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) was unable to say whether Frostbite, the society’s food outlet in Macdonald Engineering, had seen a rise in business. “It’s hard to say, because we weren’t keeping stats before,” he said. However he did note that EUS has improved record keeping this year, and altered Frostbite’s operating hours to fit student demand.
EUS recently voted to absorb the Architecture Students’ Association into their organization, but De Muelenaere explained that it is difficult to see whether this has changed the business environment around Frostbite. According to De Muelenaere, EUS does not keep track of what faculties their customers are from.
MK and SSMU
Midnight Kitchen (MK), a student-run food service that provides lunch by donation for students, served lunch outdoors during October to promote the boycott. Council voted on February 3 to renew MK’s opt-outable fee, which will be put to online referendum. In the text of the resolution, MK states that it provides “a balanced and complete lunch on a pay-as-you-can basis to an average of 150 students every weekday.”
Other food vendors in the SSMU building are not part of McGill Food and Dining Services (MFDS), and negotiate individual leases with SSMU. Revenue numbers for these businesses are not available to the public.
The boycott of MFDS, organized by Mobilization McGill (MM), began in October 2010. An event on Facebook promoting the boycott had over 3,000 supporters, and, encouraged students not to resume business at MFDS cafeterias until the Arch Café reopened.
The issue of reopening the Arch Café was presented to the University’s Senate, and later directed to the Board of Governors. At SSMU Legislative Council on January 19, President Zach, Newburgh refused to comment publicly on the current status of discussions, or even confirm that discussion addressing the reopening of the Arch Café is ongoing.
Guy Lifshitz, a MM member, expressed disappointment in the success of the boycott. In a meeting that was held on November 2 between MM members and director of MFDS Mathieu Laperle, Laperle claimed that the boycott had no effect on business. Lifshitz said this was “not necessarily surprising, but unfortunate.” Lifshitz said that he had hoped the formation of MM would prompt the administration to change their system of consultation and give students the opportunity for more meaningful input in the future. MFDS did not respond to The Daily’s requests for an interview.