Hello I'm Jackie Hunter, I'll be live blogging the food services town hall for the Ryersonian today.
Other snacks include Maple Bacon flavoured chips, french macaroons and some other small desserts. The crowd seems to be enjoying everything.
Tony Conte, Director, Vice Provost Students Office, is giving the welcoming address.
Joshna Maharaj, Assistant Director, Food Service and Executive Chef at Ryerson is speaking now. She was given a round of applause by the audience.
Maharaj is addressing the Aramark contract and the articles written about the $5.6 million in loses the university had to pay.
Maharaj says the RSU did a campus run survey about food on campus. She says students were unhappy.
University administration responded says Maharaj. She says she was welcomed by administrative.
Maharaj says she has worked with hospitals for three years to find ways to put freshly made locally-sourced food on plates. She says people were in disbelief that hospital food could be delicious.
Why should we care? says Maharaj. 1) our health 2) greenhouse gases due to moving food across the planet. 3) Children's homes are not the primary source of nutrition for them.
4) Americans are eating one of their three meals in their cars. "I really doubt our numbers are that far behind," says Maharaj.
5) Many Torontonians are going to bed hungry.
What historically existed at Ryerson. 1) low-quality food 2)high price 3) opaque contracts 4) priority on profits 5) no connection to the community
Maharaj says they're been trying to bring education and nutrition information to the consumers. She says the Chartwells team were the most willing and ready to offer some change.
Together we wrote a new contract with full transparency and an unredacted copy was presented to the RSU says Maharaj.
We've been providing fresher, tastier, more affordable, locally sourced, made food from scratch on campus Maharaj says.
"People are really excited about our five dollar lunch," Maharaj says, "I promise it will never be a piece of pizza and a bag of chips."
Let's use the institution as a tool for change. Ryerson's administration is prioritizing food and has recognized its value to set this campus apart. "For some reason [Ryerson's innovation attitude] did not cross over to food," says Maharaj
Maharaj says 1) let's shift profits to community. How can we build food services that nurture this community.
2) Let's offer local suppliers, farmers, bakers etc a place on institutional menus Maharaj says. "There's a beautiful trickle down."
3) Let's open up institutional menus to seasonality. 4) tell the story of our change. "We need to work to make sure the messages were delivered. This is a highly experimental method," Maharaj says.
"I am so happy that I see so many people in seats here. I look forward to the engagement and the curiosity that you've got," Maharaj says.
Maharaj shows a picture of Rosie, one of the chefs that made the soup that is being served today. She was met with applause and cheers from the crowd.
"I want you to know where the food came from, and why you should even care about eating that food," says Maharaj.
Plans for 2014 include: A farmer's market at Gould and Victoria.
June: Hub cafeteria gets renovated. July-November: Community Meals, Farm Tours, Speaker Series.
Now it is time for the Q&A. Conte is asking what makes this contract different. Kevin Booth, district manager of Chartwells says that the Relationship with Ryerson is what sets Chartwells apart. Maharaj says she is happy with the clauses in the contract that allow for change.
Is there any change asks Conte? "Personally it's exciting to see food that is more affordable,"Rajean Holiet from the RSU says. He asks if they have accommodated those with dietary restrictions.
"We have halal options, if kosher options have been suggested, we will happily comply," says Maharaj . "It's important to be as inclusive, we are on it."
Booth says come September we will be able "run wild" with this piece.
Conte says can we get to a point where a halal student could just show up and get what you need. Maharaj says that's where we are headed, and that's the goal that we have.
The hub is just a third of the space that actually exists. Maybe the context in which we serve it could improve as well says Maharaj.
Booth says as a corporation that i'm representing, we didn't want a cookie cutter menu offerings. "The menu options are going to be far superior to any other campus that you're seeing."
A member of the audience asks about the back of the house. Maharaj says the back of the house crew is asking for better equipment. Booth says they are bringing the cooking out front ex. bread being cooked in the front of house. He says it's a big space and you'd be surprised what we can do.
She says she is a nutrition student and she wants to know about labelling. Maharaj says she doesn't want to go anywhere near calorie counts as labels. It is better to worry about wholesome food than the calories she says.
We're are working towards a non-brand cafeteria. Booth says they were able to commit Tim Hortons to build the first sustainable building. Extreme Pitta and Pizza Pizza are heading out.
A member from the RSU says they are seeing a number of groups who host events at the RSU. She wonders what the plan is in place for Chartwells. "The catering options need to make sense for students," says Booth. "We've created a grab and go section, we are hoping soon to do a bigger launch to taste and see the what the ordering process looks like."
A member of the audience asks about more elaborate options in catering. Maharaj says it's a very different menu. She says right now we have a winter/spring menu, and the food on the menu will reflect that.
Someone asks if the renovations to the Hub were part of the contract or something that has always been on the list. Ramasamy says the evolution of what the space could be has come since Ryerson partnered with Chartwells.
A member of the audience is wondering about waste yields. Maharaj says her team is creative with food. Part of the contract is that the team comes up with a way to eliminate waste. These systems haven't gone into place yet because operations are still experimental. It's a easy goal for all of us to say we're a zero waste campus.
A member of the audience says he has been at Ryerson for over 20 years, and this is the first time we have talked about how to reform food services. He says we should critically question what is available and how we can create alternatives. What is the bottom line and how are you going to keep your business profitable?