The cafeteria at the Bernoulliborg has made the switch to vegetarian food, reusable tableware, and as little packing material as possible in an effort to be more sustainable. Operator Muzzica is even serving vegan eggs.
Over the summer, the cafeteria has had a small make-over. While catering company Beijk still own the eatery on the ground floor, they’ve passed on responsibility for actually feeding people to Muzzica. This company also serves part of the food at the Foodcourt at Zernike.
A survey filled out by nearly six hundred people showed that there was great need for a cafeteria like this, says Nils Elzinga. He works as a coordinator at the UG’s Green Office and went to Beijk with the idea of making the Bernoulliborg cafeteria more sustainable.
People were not happy with the food the old cafeteria used to serve. ‘They wanted more plant-based options, and more fresh food’, says Elzinga. ‘They were also willing to pay more for hot meals.’
Many vegan options
The people got their plant-based food: the cafeteria is now fully vegetarian, and half the food is even vegan. The prices are lower than those at the Foodcourt, says Elzinga. A full breakfast will set you back between 4 euros and 6.50. Pre-made sandwiches range from 3 euros for a pistolet to 5 euros for a sandwich with vegetarian ham and cheese and 6 euros for a panini. At the Foodcourt, sandwich prices start at 6 euros.
You can also get a hot meal: the new cafeteria will serve fresh lasagna or fried rice for approximately 7 euros (the Foodcourt sells lasagna for 9 euros). There are great snacks on offer as well: the menu, which changes weekly, includes sweet potato fries, onions rings, and plant-based bitterballen.
The vegetarian menu isn’t the only sustainable change Muzzica is making to the cafeteria. The catering company will use as little packaging material as possible for smoothies and sandwiches, for example.
Reusable porcelain plates and metal cutlery will also be returning. ‘However, we will be taking measures to prevent people from taking the tableware home with them’, says Elzinga. ‘We’ll place signs pointing to the dish-washing station, for instance.’
For now, the sustainable cafeteria is only a pilot. ‘We want to know how the public responds to it’, says Elzinga. ‘That means the menu is subject to change.’ People will be able to scan a QR code on the table to give their opinion on the food.
A group of people from all over the university consisting of professor John Hoeks (communication and information sciences) and researcher João Graça and Irene Maltagliati will keep an eye on the pilot. They will be interviewing students and staff on how they feel about the cafeteria.
Whether the pilot will be expanded to other UG cafeterias will depend on the pilot’s success and the UG and Beijk’s willingness to make the changes. ‘I do hope that this will happen’, says Elzinga.
PhD student of chemical technology Ana Luiza Slama certainly is satisfied. ‘I’m glad this cafeteria has more bread than the Foodcourt.’ She usually brings a packed lunch but would sometimes go there. This new cafeteria is a much shorter walk from Nijenborgh. ‘I can even get breakfast here whenever I’m running late’, she says, laughing.