Fanshawe students frustrated with on-campus food options

Students have come back to full in-person learning, but are finding some services are not keeping up.

Despite the full return to in-person learning this year, some Fanshawe students are finding that food options on campus have not quite caught up yet.

At the start of the 2022-2023 school year, the Chartwells eatery located in B building, which housed a Tim Hortons, a Smoke’s Poutinerie, middle eastern cuisine, soup kettles, and takeaway salads and sushi, opened up to incoming Fanshawe students. At the start of the second semester, students returned to campus to find that the eatery had been closed. At first, a note saying, “B building cafe is closed until further notice” hung on the shutters, but that has since been taken down.

Chartwells, the dining service provider for on-campus eateries (excluding those run by the Fanshawe Student Union), gave a statement regarding the cafe in an email:

The Fanshawe College Student Success and Here For You logos are shown. A young woman is smiling, sitting at a desk. Text states: A new semester is here. Access student services! We are here for you.

“We are thrilled to be back in schools, serving students and faculty at Fanshawe College this year. Our food locations, including Harvey’s, Tim Hortons, Pizza Pizza and Subway are open during the school week to offer students a variety of options throughout their day. As we welcome more students back, traffic and demand for on-campus dining continues to increase steadily but remains on the lower side relative to pre-pandemic numbers – similar to other campuses. As such, the cafe has remained closed so the team can focus our attention on providing quality service at open locations. We continue to evaluate service level and offerings for the coming school year.”

Follow-up questions regarding why the eatery was open for a semester before closing and the likelihood of it opening in future semesters have not been answered at the time of writing.

The other source of eateries on campus is the Fanshawe Student Union (FSU), which runs Oasis, Booster Juice, Kettles and Curry Bowls, and The Out Back Shack. Oasis contains several different food options, including stir fry, Mexican, breakfast, and a cafe.

Hayden Griffin, a first-year paramedic student, expressed some frustration with the speed of service at Oasis, which is designed to operate as a fast-casual restaurant.

“It takes a half hour to get our food sometimes,” Griffin said. He did, however, commend the food at the stir-fry bar at Oasis.

Larissa Foote, another first-year paramedic student, is both celiac and vegetarian, and said when it comes to on-campus food, she only has three options.

“I can go to Subway and get a gluten free sub, I can get the gluten- free noodles or I can get breakfast. That’s all I can eat if I don’t make food,” she explained. Foote added that she’d like to see more gluten free and vegetarian options on the menu, as well as clearly defining what is and isn’t gluten free.

Menus at FSU eateries are decided by the head chef. Michael Wong, the current head chef, is new to the role and much of the menu has been kept the same since his hiring earlier this school year.

“It’s been based on previous years what students have wanted. At the same time, we try to keep budget friendly for things like that,” he explained. “We like to take input from students, like when factoring the cost and try to keep everyone happy.”

Dan Paterson, the food and beverage manager for the FSU, went on to explain that a report is run at the end of the year to see what the most popular items on the menu are.

“That’s kind of how we determine what we take off the menus and what we keep on the menus,” he said.

Students have also reached out to Interrobang regarding a lack of Halal options for Muslim students. Regarding Halal additions to the menus, Wong said it’s in the works and the menu will most likely have Halal options at the start of the new school year.

“We have to factor in the costing and things like that as well. There are a few items that are definitely Halal. But again, once we’ve established a menu at the beginning of the semester, it’s hard to change it mid-semester.”

“To be…Halal, you have to have separate equipment,” Paterson said, referring to the complex nature of adapting a kitchen to accommodate Halal food.

Wong added that the lack of Halal food was the biggest request from students this year, and would be addressed over the summer.