News  Students weigh in on food vendor changes

“Healthy and local” too pricey for some

McGill has recently undergone drastic changes in its provision of food services on campus – most notably, the replacement of Sinfully Asian in the Bronfman building with Quesada Burritos & Tacos and Bento Sushi, as well as the opening of a Première Moisson express outlet in the basement of the Redpath Library on September 2.

“It’s impossible to find a decent, cheap place to eat on campus,” Vita, a U2 Arts student, told The Daily. “I feel like they’re trying to go for fancy looks and a nice atmosphere rather than trying to [address] students’ needs. I really feel like it’s meant to be more for McGill’s image, rather than what students need.”

In an email to The Daily, Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) president Ava Liu echoed Vita’s concerns over the accessibility of food on campus, and also raised questions about students’ participation in the decision to replace the small food court in Redpath Library, particularly the Tim Hortons, with a Première Moisson.

“Taking into account the Redpath [cafeteria’s] importance of location and the emphasis that students place on financial accessibility, I am curious about the consultation that went into bringing in this considerably more expensive option. I think this is a valid concern that many Arts students currently have,” said Liu.

Senior Director of McGill’s Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) Mathieu Laperle told The Daily in an interview that the change in food outlets in Redpath Library did take student voices into account.

“It was consultation with the Dean [of Libraries] and some students and the annual survey that we do. We were able to get information and it was needed to do some renovation [in the cafeteria] because it was outdated.”

John, a U3 Science student, was pleased with the variety of food offered in the Bronfman building.

“I really, really enjoyed Sinfully Asian. […] But considering that there is a Japanese option, and I really do like Mexican food, and there’s literally no options for Mexican food around Montreal in general, I really think it’s all in all a gain.”

“I personally quite like Quesada, especially taking into consideration the buzz on campus last year around bringing in Mexican cuisine to the Bronfman building. I think this choice tapped into general student input,” added Liu.

Student survey considered in replacement of Sinfully Asian

In fact, students’ opinions of Sinfully Asian were gathered in a widespread survey conducted by the Management Undergraduate Society (MUS) last fall. It received 1,401 responses, most of which indicated a preference for healthier food, and preferably a Mexican food option as well.

“We knew the lease was ending back in May and basically we worked with SHHS to get feedback on Sinfully Asian and inform the bidding process for the summer,” MUS President Sean Finnell told The Daily.

As Aramark Canada approached the end of its contract as the food services provider of the university, SHHS sought a new food provider through a competitive tender process, wherein the company that has the most attractive offer is allotted the contract.

On March 27, the Board of Governors’ executive committee approved SHHS’s request to proceed with the competitive tender process and authorized Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens to sign the contract with the successful bidder of the competitive tender process.

The winning bidder in the provision of food services was Compass Group and one of its sectors, the Bon Appétit management company.

Executive chef of SHHS Oliver De Volpi told The Daily that Compass and Bon Appétit will put a high priority on making foods, such as soup stwock, from scratch.

SHHS Marketing and Nutrition Counselor Monique Lauzon did not respond to The Daily’s requests for comment.

Other food locations to be opening soon include E-Café in the McConnell Engineering Building and Vinh’s Too in the Strathcona Music Building.