If you wanted to try the new food on Monday, you had to be quick. By two thirty in the afternoon almost everything was gone. Even the simple sandwiches, which are now called ‘petit pains’.
‘The only thing left was chervil soup. We had to beg to even get a roll with it’, students Sara and Edwin say. They think the cafeterias becoming more sustainable is a good idea, though. ‘The fact that there are healthy and sustainable meals available is nice for people who eat here a lot.’
Joost, student of European languages and cultures, also thinks sustainable cafeterias are a good idea. ‘I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary that only have healthy food, though’, he adds. ‘All that’s left at the salad bar are a few pieces of tomato and cucumber instead of the fancy salads we used to have.’
Sixty percent organic
The cafeterias will be serving more than just sustainable and healthy food, though. ‘Sixty percent of our product line is organic, sustainable, and fair trade’, says Elizabeth Germs with Beijk Catering, the company that operates the cafeterias for the RUG. The rest of the range isn’t. The difference is shown using markers. ‘The sustainable products can be recognised by their symbols’, Germs explains.
Whether the products are actually sustainable is monitored during the periodic meetings, says Jaap Rademaker, manager food & drinks at the services department. It was one of the most important requirements of the new catering. ‘We also want to offer more regional products and a more professional approach. The RUG’s expertise isn’t on food, but a catering company’s is.’
For Marianne, who works at one of the cafeterias, the new catering is the largest change she’s seen in the 32 years she’s worked here. ‘We had some training last week’, she says. Nevertheless, Monday was fairly busy and chaotic. ‘We offer more products, but we’re still with the same number of people. And we’ve only just started, so need some time to adjust.’
She thinks the new cafeterias are a good thing. She has noticed that the Yam Yam to Go, where people can create their own Asian dishes, is especially popular. Another reason for the change was internationalisation at the RUG: students and staff from different countries have different needs. ‘The product line is changed to suit the customer needs four times a year, based on a customer satisfaction survey’, Germs explains.
Whether international students will actually notice remains to be seen. When two Asian students were asked how they liked the new cafeteria, they said: ‘We just came back from lunch at McDonald’s. We didn’t know there was a cafeteria here.’