“Campus eats” is a three-part series of articles comparing the positive and negative aspects of food services at Ryerson, the University of Toronto and George Brown College. Stay tuned for parts two and three, coming soon at ryersonian.ca.
George Brown College
George Brown’s food services team oversees three different campuses in the downtown area, and focuses on a variety of fast, convenience-based foods. Chartwells is the main food service provider.
There are two plan options: an annual plan, which costs $1,990, and a semester plan, which costs $995. Both plans are tax-exempt and receive a five per cent discount on all non-branded food. There are also exclusive savings and promotions offered to Swipe & Save “members” who purchase a meal plan.
How to Pay
Students can order customizable meal plans at any time of the year (with bigger discounts on plans available earlier in the year) online on what is called a Swipe & Save card. With a minimum load of $100, money on the card never expires but there is a hold placed during the summer.
Efficiency is key on the St. James campus, with six different fast-food restaurants — three of which aim to offer fresher, healthier options.
“George Brown College has three separate campuses, and each is retail-focused with no residences,” said Geetha Ramasamy, general manager for Chartwells at George Brown. “In a retail environment, we understand the need for quick, simple food at affordable prices.”
While the restaurants run by food services leave a little to be desired in terms of expansive options for vegan, gluten-free, halal and kosher, there are plenty of alternatives for food on campus thanks to the culinary program’s course requirements.
The student-run GBC café is located in the hospitality building and offers fresh and healthy meals prepared by third-semester Integrated Culinary students under the direction of instructors.
“I remember the student-run café as predominantly a salad bar. You could choose different proteins, lettuce, kale and other superfoods,” said Steven Ferreira, former George Brown student. “A lot of the food there was healthy.”
Though convenience is a big factor in the meals offered at George Brown, most food served is fast food.
“There aren’t many options for healthy foods. Not many people enjoy the food here, despite it being the culinary campus,” said Andrew Carroccia, third-year project management student. “I know a lot of my friends hate the cafeteria. There’s just not much choice.”
Students mention chains such as Subway, Pizza Pizza, Bento Sushi and Smoke’s Poutinerie as the main options for food on campus. The smaller in-house offerings, like Chef’s Table — which offers a rotating menu of home-cooked style meals — often goes unnoticed.
“There was more incentive to keep going back to Pizza Pizza because every four times you ate there you would get a coupon to go back,” said Ferreira.
Even if the food on campus isn’t appealing, some students recognize that there are many more options outside of campus.
“If there’s something you can’t find in the cafeteria, we’re downtown and there’s so much more than what the school offers just a five-minute walk from campus,” said Alexia Basilone, third-year business administration student.
Beyond the main cafeteria, there is catering offered through food services. There is also a fine dining restaurant where diners can enjoy contemporary cuisine at a discount. Students in the culinary program run the restaurant as a class and design the menu, which changes seasonally.
If there’s anything that Ryerson, U of T and George Brown have in common, it’s that all three campuses are conveniently located among a variety of restaurants in downtown Toronto. If campus food services don’t begin to step things up, they may just lose valuable business: their students.
“School is your community. Who you are and what you do needs to be reflected in what you’re eating there,” said Maharaj. “It’s really important and it’s not impossible.”