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Dalhousie food fight

University administration fights students for control of food services contracts

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A months’ long food fight between Dalhousie university and the Dal student union appears to be winding down, with the student’s refusing to play the university’s game.

Right now, the student union has a contract with Sodexho for food service in the student union building, the SUB, while the university has one with Aramark for the rest of campus.

The university has been trying to gain control of the students’ food contract, as a single contract would make them more money, says Chris Saulnier, president of the student union.

The practical implication, though, is that students would lose control over the food contract for their own building. The student union would have no power to let local and sustainable businesses in, including the Loaded Ladle, a group asking for a kitchen space and storefront space for a student-run food co-op.

To sweeten the deal, the university offered to pay $6 million dollars towards a renovation of the SUB, expected to cost “upwards of $9 million.” This would be “a great opportunity” to include a new cafeteria in the building, catering to a new residence hall, says Heather Sutherland, Dal’s assistant vice-president of Ancillary Services.

But Saulnier says he wouldn’t be happy with any deal that included students giving up control of their food.

With student councilors from across the political spectrum calling for an open market and hoping to expand beyond bland institutional food offerings, Saulnier says he has considered not signing a contract with a big provider like Sodexho or Aramark. This would make the spots in the SUB available to groups like the Loaded Ladle, as well as other local businesses.

The student council was to vote whether to accept the university’s offer Wednesday night, just after The Coast went to print. We’ll report on the results at thecoast.ca/bites.

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