Behind the Scenes at the CapU Cafeteria

Taking a closer look at food services management on campus 

Sheila Arellano // News Editor 

The Capilano University (CapU) cafeteria provides a substantial service to students every day, but often goes unnoticed despite significant evolutions over the past few years. From the addition of paper straws and green containers in 2018, to recycling cardboard and plastics and the inclusion of a salad bar that introduced more plant-based meal options, the cafeteria has made an effort to incorporate student feedback.  

The story of food is important as it shapes a large part of the CapU community. “We’ve tried various different foods here, some have been successful, some haven’t, but we’re always looking to make a few changes and listen to what the faculty, staff and the students have to say for input,” said CapU Manager Purchasing Paul Gruber.  

Prior to the current CapU food service provider, Aramark was collaborating with the university. Today, Chartwells is on a 15-year contract with CapU, and aims to better the food service operations. “There was a lot of capital required. We needed to renovate all the buildings, needed to bring new franchises and we don’t have the money ourselves. So with a long-term contract, Chartwells were able to finance the costs,” Gruber said.  

When Chartwells was introduced to CapU, the Capilano Student’ Union (CSU), faculty and staff were a part of the evaluation committee involved in making the decision to partner with the food service provider. “A lot of the decision was based on what this new company is doing in regards to sustainability, buying local and having healthier food choices for everybody,” Gruber said.  

Making socially conscious meal purchases has been a focus for CapU in recent years. According to the 2018 CapU Business Review, the university introduced the charity program WE Special Meals in September of that year. This has given the CapU community the opportunity to gift 4,295 nutritious meals to children and families in Kenya, Africa, that support school kitchens and local farms. Chartwells at CapU donated $606, which translated into 1,400 meals.  

Although the food services at CapU have improved throughout the years, there are also aspects of the CapU cafeteria that still require attention. The inclusion of gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options could be expanded along with the overall flexibility around dietary restrictions. “I am grateful for the plant-based options that are available at the cafeteria and would love to see more of that,” said CapU student Pablo Cordoba. To deliver a student-first campus experience, options need to be rounded and comprehensive.  

To get involved in the decision-making process around the food services at CapU, students are encouraged to include their input into the food surveys sent to them every year. A food service committee meets once a month for those interested in being engaged. There are two student representatives participating in the meetings as well as two faculty representatives who can be contacted with inquiries.  

For more information, visit the CapU Chartwells website 

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