Update on Sexton
Since October, the Loaded Ladle has collaborated with the DSU Sustainability Office and the Dalhousie Food Bank to present "The Breakfast Club", a serving of bagels and fruit offered, initially, twice weekly. In January, 2020, we expanded The Breakfast Club to three servings per week - on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 1130am in the Alumni Lounge.
Recently, we announced our intent to begin serving hot meals in the T-Room, the licensed establishment on the Sexton campus. We have experienced a setback.
The reason goes back to why the Loaded Ladle even exists - exclusivity contracts to corporate food providers. When we began, we battled the exclusivity Sodexo had with the Students Union Building. In the current DSU contract with Chartwell's, their exclusive right to provide food to students in the SUB is limited by a clause which permits the student-run food service - The Loaded Ladle - to serve food without penalty in the Students Union Building.
A similar exclusive contract between Dalhousie University and Aramark gives the latter with exclusive right to provide food on University property, chiefly dormitories and refectories. The exclusivity contract also applies to the Sexton campus, where Aramark contracts retail food provision to Frederic's.
The Loaded Ladle in now in the process of approaching Aramark for an exemption allowing us to serve one hot meal per week on the Sexton campus, using food prepared in our Students Union Building kitchen and kept warm on site at Sexton.
The larger impediment to our providing food on the Sexton campus is infrastructure. There is no Students Union property on the Sexton campus, it is all University property. In expanding and renewing that campus, the University has not provided any space that could be used to serve food to students. There is no kitchen facility, there is no hand-washing sink, and there are limited electrical outlets in the public spaces of Sexton buildings. Given the space in the new Design building, it is our view that foresight on the University's part could have provided basic infrastructure enabling a student-run food service.
Why is a student-run food service so important on the Sexton campus? Because it answers real and immediate food security issues.
Students tell us they find the options at Frederic's limited. They are busy students, often in demanding Engineering programs, or in Planning or Architecture. Classes are long, lab sessions are long, and students say they have little time to eat, much less to take the steps necessary to ensure they eat well. Instead, they say, they order out or eat fast food. We have been asked to provide workshops on shopping on a budget, or preparing low cost meals in advance. Barring time, money and the energy to devote to the task of advance food preparation, many students tell us they end up eating haphazardly throughout the week. Access to financial resources is also an issue for students who pay the highest engineering tuition fees in Canada, and who pay more than their Arts counterparts because of laboratory fees.
We know we can lessen the impact of food insecurity among Sexton students if we can serve even one hot meal a week. The only space with the required electrical outlets, counter space, sit-down space and limited washing facilities for us to do so effectively is the T-Room. That is why we have sought access there to provide hot meals to Sexton students.
Stay tuned! We are intent on negotiating exemptions to the University's exclusivity contract with Aramark to enable us to establish a student-run food service as a regular and routine part of the Sexton experience.