Whether it’s on the Spotted at Brock Facebook page, in line at Market, or on the bus home, one thing that seems to consistently be on the tips of student’s tongues is “food”. Particularly, its affordability.
Let’s face it. Brock University is an affordable food desert. The choice often comes down to having either enough to eat or having enough money to survive the week.
As many of you might have heard (if not, read the article on page 3 of this issue), Fed Up: The Affordable Food Project — the initiative many of us hoped would bring consistently available inexpensive and healthy meals to the campus — might be defunded within the month.
The organization, whether its methods and management were correct or not, brought food choice to the forefront of student discussion. Food was on almost every BUSU executives platform in last year’s BUSU election, and it will likely be at the forefront of upcoming campaigns as well. If there’s one thing that Fed Up has proven, it’s that there needs to be an intervention in the current trend of food service at Brock.
The prices of food are not solely the administration’s responsibility however, they are regulated by Brock’s exclusive food supplier — Sodexo. This is by no means an anomaly, as many other universities also contract external suppliers to run on campus food service. University of Toronto: Mississauga Campus is one such example.
Early this year, the administration of University of Toronto: Mississauga was petitioned to amend their contract with their food supplier, Chartwells. The petition worked and the administration worked with their supplier to amend the contract’s terms.
Following the updated contract, students at U of T Mississauga are now able to purchase “more authentic ford from a list of vendors” according to student newspaper, The Medium. Thus, while Brock is contractually bound to the global food supplier, Sodexo, for another four years, there may still be hope to petition and change the unreasonable food prices found in Sodexo-run dining halls, specifically Guernsey Market.
While the Market offers a range of nutritious and high quality food options, the prices are often seen as too high, as much of the food is tagged as ‘Gourmet food’. The University of British Columbia has had similar concerns in terms of food affordability. At UBC, while the food quality has risen tremendously due to a greater selection of locally grown produce, the food has become too expensive for the average student.
Across Canada, student food bank usage has increased tremendously due to job scarcity and rising school costs, but a student’s need for food does not depend on the strength of the economy. While it depends on body type, height, gender and a host of other options, the general rule is that the body needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain itself. That’s only from a physiological level, from an educational standpoint as well, the brain needs constant nourishment just to be able to function at adequate capacity.
If the university doesn’t yet see that food costs is an issue for us as students, then it’s our responsibility to speak louder and make these issues clearly heard. Even if its not in time for us to benefit as students, let’s see to it that student agency and dissent to overpriced food at Brock doesn’t die out, even if Fed Up is defunded come election time.