Food Woes at Memorial University

I’m delighted that the food quality at Memorial University has been getting some attention this week. I may be a little spoiled having come here after attending Guelph U, known for having the best food in the country, but I must really agree with the vocal students who have brought this issue up that the offerings at MUN are ridiculously poor.

I was fortunate enough to never have to live in the residence nor depend on the dining hall for meals. I’ve passed through once or twice and thought that the building looked nice enough, but never having consumed the food I can’t really provide much of an opinion. However, in speaking to my vegetarian friends that have lived in residence for years now, they make it clear that their dining options are pretty limited to a wilted salad bar and bowls of cereal. I can’t imagine how anyone with intersectional dietary needs (gluten-free, vegan, lactose, etc.) must fare.

I do depend on the cafes around campus for snacks occasionally and the selections there is fairly poor as well. I’ve yet to brave a slice of the pizza, labeled but ominously hidden in paper containers under a heat lamp. The muffins are a little dehydrated but tolerable when desperate. There’s one vegetarian sandwich they offer that I have tried (I think there’s an egg salad sandwich but I wouldn’t dare touch it) and it is just some dry bread, hummus, grated carrot and lettuce. It’s certainly not worth the price (which I think is about $3.75). The food in the University Centre food court is okay, mostly as they are managed by chain companies. I don’t know all the kitchen conditions obviously but I feel safe with Booster Juices.

My understanding is that the problem with the dining hall is that the food provider, Aramark, continually provides low quality products for the staff to prepare. This, in combination with poor cooking, yields an unpleasant result for the students forced to eat there. I’ve read on the student app Yik Yak numerous times when someone discovers that something served that night at “dhall” is edible, and they share the news to let others take advantage of the rare treat. I have a friend who works in the meal hall and from what I have heard and experienced, the staff are all quite nice. I certainly wouldn’t look to them as the main problem for the food quality.

And to add, I have written before about the poor quality of produce available in Newfoundland in general. The shipments must travel far to get here and poor weather will often impact the delivery significantly. At least half the year is at risk for bad winter weather, which means the school year in particular faces the worst level of fresh greens. The notion passed about in the comments on this issue of a fruit bar being offered once a semester makes me shudder. No wonder this province was recently given such poor reviews in terms of obesity.

(The CBC wrote this article about the issue today.)

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