Burnaby food services enter new era

May 31, 2012


"These changes represent an important step forward in fostering a supportive campus environment, a key goal of our new strategic vision,”

SFU president Andrew Petter

Big improvements to food services are coming to the Burnaby campus—including plans for an international food floor in the Mackenzie Café, 24-hour food service in the residence dining hall, and a Starbucks outlet in the West Mall Complex.

Changes also include:

  • Extended hours of operation in all locations, well into the evenings and weekends;
  • New, healthier and vegetarian foods, and an expanded range of authentic international foods served in the Mackenzie Café;
  • An entirely new campus-wide catering service, with a variety of prices including "student budget pricing". This service will be managed by SFU Meetings, Events and Conference Services (MECS) in an upgraded Diamond Alumni Centre.
  • A move to more healthy options in vending machines;
  • Authentic international foods served in an entirely refurbished Discovery I facility that houses the ever-growing Fraser International College;
  • Plus other new venues in the Academic Quadrangle to be announced this fall.

"These changes represent an important step forward in fostering a supportive campus environment, a key goal of our new strategic vision,” said SFU president Andrew Petter.

“Food services on the Burnaby campus were frequently raised during the envision>SFU consultation process. These improvements respond to that concern, and will help create a more positive work and social environment for students, staff and faculty.”         

Mark McLaughlin, executive director of SFU Ancillary Services, says: “The changes are going to be really significant, and reflect what the campus community told us during the two Food for Thought surveys we conducted.

File photo: “Pulse on Dining” and “My Pantry”, courtesy of Chartwells.

“We had 6,000 people respond to the first survey, and 1,500 talked to us in the second survey. The big concerns expressed were about the value of food services, given the prices. And the ideas people gave us included a wider variety of foods, more international foods, more healthy foods, and extended hours in which food is available.

“We have listened, and these changes will bring SFU and Canadian university dining into a whole new era, I call it Food 2.0."

McLaughlin added: “These changes include the introduction in September 2012 of Canada’s first residence dining hall that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We are moving away from the ‘Declining Balance’ residence meal-plan to one we are calling ‘Anytime Dining’. No longer will residence students run out of meal-money before the semester is up. And they will be able to eat as often as they choose, all this at the same per-semester price as last year.”

The changes are reflected in a five-year renewal of the SFU Food Services contract with the Compass Group (Chartwells Canada). That renewal was approved today by the SFU Board of Governors.

Other improvements in the residence dining hall will include the introduction of “Pulse on Dining” and “My Pantry”, two Chartwells concepts popular in the U.S. and Atlantic Canada.

This revamped facility will focus on made-to-order cooking, and allow students to cook their favourite meals themselves and for their friends using ingredients that they will find in “My Pantry”. A chef will be close by to lend a hand with recipes. An expanded fresh fruit and salad bar responds to student demand for fresh, healthy, and local products.

The changes will begin this fall, first at the residence dining hall, and be phased in over a couple of years for the remaining areas. The target for the Starbucks outlet, for example, is 2013.

Marc Fontaine, a student graduating in fall from SFU who was part of the Food for Thought process said: “Our students will see dramatic improvements with increased choices that better reflect the international make-up of the student body, refurbished and more attractive venues, and longer opening hours. Students throughout the weekend will now have a place to grab a bite or get a cup of coffee. These changes will actually keep students on campus longer".

McLaughlin: “The University is making a considerable investment in all these changes. While the changes will be phased in, we will move as fast as we can. We know how important food services are to the community.”

"Milt Richards, SFU’s senior director of athletics: “The 24-hour, continual dining service is music to the ears of our student-athletes who often leave for training at
5 a.m. or return late to their residences
after 10 p.m. This is very accommodating and gives us a recruiting advantage versus other NCAA universities we play against.”

"Food 2.0"