$5 meal deals keep bellies, wallets full

All this for only $5 at various campus eateries.

All this for only $5 at various campus eateries.

The recent change of Ryerson’s food carrier brings a $5 “Dolla-Ram-A” option at several campus eateries. The promotion offers students a variety of meal options at a low cost.

The new meals, curated by culinary maven Joshna Maharaj, are part of an overall shift in food management on campus which began earlier this year with the institution of Chartwells as the sole operator of campus food services.

Students can purchase at three main eateries on campus: The Hub inside Jorgenson Hall, Pitman Hall and the International Living / Learning Centre. The meals will change daily and each location will offer something different.

Tuesday’s $5 offerings included a burrito from the Hub in Jorgenson Hall or a baked tomato stuffed with rice from the cafeteria in Pitman Hall.

“The beauty of (the $5 meal) is students will have three different choices every day across the three locations and it will change daily,” said Donna Bortrell, director of sustainability and wellness at Chartwells. “All students have to do is go to the cafeteria and ask for the $5 special.”

Ryerson switched to Chartwells after a contract with Aramark Canada Ltd. expired.

According to a report by the Toronto Star, Ryerson has been forced to fork over $5.6 million in losses to Aramark suffered since 2007. Other schools that use Aramark’s services, such as York University, never had to subsidize the provider.

Ryerson formally ended the agreement with Aramark in favour of Chartwells, which manages food services for over 800 other schools in Canada alone.

For Bortrell, affordable food isn’t the only goal with this new program; it’s also to make student meals that are locally sourced, wholesome and of high quality.

“There’s no trade-off here between quality and cost,” she says. “If you focus on using local seasonal ingredients, which is what we’ve mandated to do, you save money while offering students great variety.”

This balancing of quality, sustainability and cost is why the university brought in executive chef Maharaj to oversee the new menu options at Ryerson.

Aside from being a renowned culinary artist, Maharaj also has a long history of food advocacy. She has personally overseen a similar nutritional shift at The Hospital for Sick Children and Scarborough Hospital.

Maharaj’s new menu is offering students more deals than just the daily “Dolla-Ram-A.”

Price drops have popped up across campus, with the standard big breakfast at Pitman Hall dropping from $4.79 to $4.49 and a grilled cheese sandwich at The Grill priced at $2.99, compared to $3.59 last year. Students can now also get two tacos at the Hub for $3.99.

As Chartwells and Maharaj take the reins of Ryerson’s food ser ice, Bortrell encourages students to take advantage of the great deals they’ll be offering in the near future.

“There’s a lot of new stuff we’re offering to students now,” she says. “It might not be steak, but students have a great chance to finally get some high quality food on campus.”

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