Five food services changes coming soon to Ryerson

New food changes are coming to Ryerson, as proposed at the food town hall on March 12. (Leslie Walker / Ryersonian staff)

New food changes are coming to Ryerson, as announced at the food town hall on March 12. (Leslie Walker / Ryersonian staff)

Renovations to the Hub cafeteria will begin this summer as part of a list of new food services changes coming to Ryerson.

The project was officially announced at the food services town hall on March 12, almost seven months after the university introduced new food management company Chartwells.

The meeting, held in the Heaslip House, looked at how Chartwells and Joshna Maharaj, executive chef and assistant director of food services at Ryerson, have been doing in their first few months. Chartwells’ district manager Kevin Booth, alongside Maharaj, announced new initiatives to come in the next year.

Here are five food changes that Ryerson hopes to implement in upcoming months.

1. More diverse and inclusive food options

Ryerson Food Services currently has accommodations for dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten-free and halal, but some may be available only upon request. Come September, both Maharaj and Booth said they want all dietary restrictions to be directly available as soon as you walk into a campus eatery. “We have halal options (and) if kosher options have been suggested, we will happily comply,” Maharaj said. “It’s important to be inclusive and we are on it.”

2. Better engagement with food

Maharaj said she wants to bring an emphasis back to healthy food by educating students about where their food comes from. She also said she wants to educate students about both food sustainability and maintaining a zero-waste policy. Ryerson also hopes to establish a better connection to the community with the annual farmers market — which starts again in May  — and a speaker series from local famers, with community meals and farm tours from July to November.

3. Renovations to the Hub

Ryerson’s main cafeteria, the Hub, will be renovated in June. Booth said they are hoping to expand the Hub, as it only uses one-third of the space that is available. She also wants to bring cooking out in the open. “We are going to bring the cooking out front, for example, cooking bread in the front of house,” Booth said. “It’s a big space and you’d be surprised what we can do.”

4. Establishing a non-name brand cafeteria

With the exception of students’ beloved Tim Hortons, Ryerson is working towards creating a non-name brand cafeteria. This means out with Pizza Pizza and Extreme Pita and in with wholesome and fresh food from local Ontario farmers.

5. More seasonal food offerings

Currently, Ryerson Food Services offers a four-season menu that focuses on fresh ingredients that are available locally depending on the season. Maharaj said she wants to stop offering fruits and vegetables that are not in season, like strawberries in the winter. But she said she would consider adding fruits that are not grown locally. “The idea that you can have what you want just because you can pay for it will no longer fly.” Maharaj said. “That is not a sustainable idea.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 19, 2014.

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