Written by Ricky Liu and Sarah Malik
Edited by Behraz Rezaie
After an entire semester, many students have grown used to the new cafeteria, its innovative meals, vibrant music, and questionable pricing. The Marianopolis World Review is here to present the voices of students, Congress, and the cafeteria.
What is the new cafeteria?
Cook & Etc., a modest but stylish catering service, arrived to Marianopolis near the end of the Winter 2018 semester. It began as a chic café, settling next to the D-wing side entrance. The company was waiting for the re-opening of the cafeteria to take on a larger role at the College. At the time, food options were drastically different and more expensive. There were pesto sandwiches, paninis, and many more fresh options. The change from the cafeteria from last year created mixed feelings within the student union. Food was fresher and cleaner, although with smaller portions and higher prices.
When the cafeteria re-opened, Cook & Etc. imported more supplies to the larger storage space, and finally settled into the cafeteria area, becoming the cafeteria we know today.
The Students’ voice
Earlier in the Fall 2018 semester, Congress sent out a survey to the student body concerning many important topics including the cafeteria and student advocacy.
The survey had some interesting results that clearly defined what the concerns about the cafeteria were.
Over half of our student body brings lunch to school and ¼ of our student body consistently eats at the cafeteria between classes. When these students were asked how satisfied they were with the cafeteria service, 40% remained neutral whilst ¼ of the respondents were disappointed. Interestingly enough, ¼ of survey takers were satisfied with the school café, showing that the café is doing something right!
Following questions in the survey tried to define exactly what the concerns about the cafeteria where. Many people wanted to see improvement in cafeteria services, and most student responses wished for an improvement in food pricing, making up 85% of the respondents. Price wasn’t the only concern, however, as 35% of survey takers answered that they wanted to see an improvement in food quality as well.
Students being concerned about price is understandable as 43% of students have less than 10$ to spend for lunch at the cafeteria. People wanting better quality food for money is an age-old complaint. It is further worsened by Montreal’s ‘foodie culture’. Outside of money and quality, few people felt there was an issue with customer service.
The Congress survey was very thorough and helped clearly define student issues with the cafeteria. People had very staunch opinions about the cafeteria, since most students spend their breaks there.
Undoubtedly, Congress has acted to defend the rights and wallets of students. Amidst the frustrations that students may have, Congress has been trying its very hardest – staying rational and strategic – to negotiate with our food service. David Cao, President, and Meghan Couture, Vice President, are responsible for attending cafeteria committee meetings and communicating with the head of the service, Cristina, advocating for the voice of the students.
What have they done (so far)?
As students who also use the cafeteria and speak with friends who have opinions, David and Meghan are taking every meeting seriously to discuss deals and agreements. Cafeteria committee meetings happen once a month and Congress has managed to speak to Cristina one-on-one at some instances. Although a constant work in progress, the cafeteria wants Congress to advertise their cafeteria. Congress aims to do so only if the cafeteria offers more pertinent deals than those it currently has. Essentially, the Cafeteria has listened to some concerns and has included fruit options and salads as part of a healthier selection, even though no one buys them. Additionally, Jerry Zhu, Coordinator of External Affairs, has signed a few deals under the MariEats application, allowing students to explore restaurants nearby at a lower cost.
Congress has also made sure to act with reason and good faith and to not spread frustrations among the student body.
It is important to note that discussions with the cafeteria happen on a slow basis, especially with the committee meeting once a month. Congress is pushing at a reasonable force to make the students’ voices heard, with small results made. For now, there are many ways to nourish oneself at Marianopolis, whether it be the cafeteria, homemade lunches or even on Sherbrooke or Monkland. It is crucial to keep in mind that communication between Congress and the student body should always be promoted and kept open at both ends!