Food Services continues to improve value and options for the uOttawa community

Students enjoying food at the UCU cafeteria.

As part of its constant effort to improve both service and quality levels across campus, Food Services undertook the task of finding the right partner to deliver food services across campus in the coming years.

In January 2012, a committee of stakeholders from across campus was formed to review and evaluate proposals to select the next food service partner. The new contract was drafted on the basis of a transparent request for proposals (RFP) process conducted by a committee comprising student federation and University administration representatives along with other students and staff drawn from across the campus community.

“We’re very excited about the extensive project that will expand and redesign the dining area at the UCU and we are committed to eliminating debit fees at all our locations across campus,” said Food Services director Patrick Genest, who has promised to consult students before any UCU renovations take place. “By expanding the range of food choices, we aim to continue building on the improvements we have implemented over the past three years.”

Other initiatives include:

  • Setting new sourcing benchmarks for local food and sustainable seafood
  • Continuing to develop and implement sustainable practices on campus
  • Continuing to donate viable surplus food to the SFUO food bank

After a thorough review of the proposals, the committee selected Chartwells as the best option because it allowed the committee to leverage improvements for students, such as the initiatives listed above, as a direct result of the recent contract negotiations. The new contract is also built on a hybrid model that allows food trucks like Relish and Stone Soup, as well as independent chains such as Première Moisson and student-run locations to offer nutritious, affordable food alternatives on campus.

“It’s something that is relatively unique to uOttawa,” said Genest. “Not all Chartwells campus contracts allow other suppliers, like Gabriel Pizza or Bento Sushi, on campus, or provide the variety that we offer and will continue to offer to our students.”

Under the new contract, all Chartwells employees will be required to meet the same bilingualism requirements as University employees, which was not the case under the previous contract.

“All employees hired by Chartwells will have to pass a test administered by the University’s Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute,” says Genest.

Chartwells has also committed to deliver a minimum of four continuous improvements every year to incorporate further sustainable practices, promote a healthy lifestyle, provide nutritional education to the university community and provide a variety of healthy, high-quality food on campus at an affordable price, with quality service and fresh ingredients.

“These types of initiatives are a step in the direction of improving food services on campus. It’s encouraging to see things like local sourcing, sustainability practices, and greater opportunity for alternative options on campus,” said outgoing SFUO president Ethan Plato. “If this new contract continues to grow the hybrid model, allowing for more student-run and independent providers, then it should be successful in providing affordable and nutritious food to our students.”

41 Responses to “Food Services continues to improve value and options for the uOttawa community”

  1. Sébastien Millot

    Wow. Je ne peut pas croire qu’ils ont gardé CHARTWELLS. Encore quelques années de misère pour les étudiants avec les plans alimentaires.

  2. G

    Wow Patrick Gênes is in Chartwells pocket, I wonder what kind of incentive he got under the table for renewing their contract. Ask any student their number one compliant, it will be quality and price of food on campus. This complaint is directly attributable to Chartwells, they should have been gone a long time ago. What a joke.

  3. Van

    I am surprised at the choice that was made to keep Chartwell’s. I think most students don’t give a hoot if the employee preparing their food is bilingual, but they DO care lots more about REASONABLE prices! Twenty dollar meals, no thanks! I’ll stick to bag lunches.

  4. Xavier

    Encore plusieurs années à ne pas pouvoir me faire servir en français à la cafétéria…

  5. Charles

    Clearly the students were not as part as the process as this article seems to suggest. I find that OttawaU lacks vision because what ottawa u doesn’t seem to realize is that university food is part of the experience and when they will ask mein a few years to give money, I will keep in mind how I was being gouged all my time at OttawaU.
    That being said, I don’t find there were many healthy alternatives on campus, always alot of sauce with plenty of carbs. And seriously, trying to be ecofriendy by eliminating bottled water for soda, you’re not fooling anybody.

  6. David

    Ceci est une blague ou quoi ? Chartwells ? En plus d’être malsaine, extrêmement dispendieuse, cette chaîne offre souvent un service lent et souvent unilingue. Je suis vraiment déçu de la FÉUO et de la direction d’apprendre cette nouvelle !

  7. Sabrina Abraham

    Thanks for your comments. Please note that the contract for food services on uOttawa campus was awarded through a transparent and fair bidding process.

    Merci pour vos commentaire. Svp veuillez prendre note que le contrat pour les services alimentaires sur le campus de l’Université d’Ottawa a été accordé à la suite d’un processus d’appel d’offres transparent et équitable.

  8. Alain

    Ah mais c’est n’importe quoi que Chartwells ait remporté le contrat, ses services sont médiocre surtout en français, content de savoir que je ne serai pas le seul a le boycotté

  9. James Peterson

    lol the food at OttawaU is notoriously bad, overpriced, with limited options. All comments so far reflect this as well, I can’t see anyone defending this as a good thing.

  10. KM

    Wow. Really eh. It looks like it was really transparent indeed. PS: one aspect of university is student experience. I wish Ottawa U wakes up and stops ignoring this reality. Poor quality, shitty food services, crappy experience = Univ of Ottawa. Well done!

  11. Mathieu

    Hahaha la bonne blague. Tout le monde cherche désespérément des solutions pour éviter la nourriture de Chartwells ! C’est cher, c’est sale, c’est gras. Le service est de mauvaise qualité. Le service en français, on oublie…
    Bravo M. Genest ! Du bon travail.

  12. Charlie

    Chartwells? Seriously? Wasn’t it apart of the SFUO platform last year to get rid of Chartwells and provide students with more affordable choices? The food is sooooo expensive!! No student can seriously afford this and the food isn’t the most appetizing! My bill always over $15 when I buy some fruit and a salad! It’s absolutely ridiculous.. and eliminating debit fees should have been something done a hell of a lot sooner!! The food services on campus are horrible and nothing seems to be changing…

  13. Anne

    Super expensive student food. A small portion of meal costs more than 10 dollars. If you want to get full, spending more then 15 dollars is normal. The buffet is expensive too. Can’t believe this still happens in Canada! I thought this might happen in a less developed place.

    • Jonathan Felix Yizhe Du

      the price really sucks, well if u went Carleton, they offer better meak

      • Bonnie

        Pretty sure no one selects their university based on food. If you do, you’re doing something wrong.

  14. JM

    The fact that uOttawa brings in a company like Chartwells to gauge students was a red flag to me from the get go. A great example of this is when I purchased a slice of pizza, side salad and a drink for a rediculous $16!

    Universities understandably charge a large fee for educational services for understandable reasons in my eyes. However, it should be a top priority to provide students with a reasonable and encouraging food price so they can survive the term/year/degree without having to sell an arm an a leg.

    Someone from uOttawa needs to step up on behalf of the Students. Anyone?

  15. Kevin

    Chartwells, sérieusement. Le pire aspect de l’université d’Ottawa est au niveau des services alimentaires. Trop cher, mauvais service et même pas bon. Pratiquement impossible d’avoir un repas en bas de 10$.

    Les options sur le campus sont limité puisque que tout est géré par Chartwells, nous sommes une clientèle captive comme des animaux en cage. Ils savent que peu importe le prix, ils vont avoir des ventes.

    Ça coûte presque moins cher manger à la Place Banque Scotia ou au Centre Bell.
    Et les frais de débits… WTH, on est en 2013.

  16. RYAN

    And this is exactly why I refuse to buy food at the caf. Well done U of O, treating your broke students well!

  17. Taylor Chiocchio

    It is interesting that this article is published in May of all months, while the Food Service hours across campus during the Spring and Summer semesters are absolutely horrible. Maybe if vendors would stay open past 2 or 3 pm on weekdays, they would make enough money off of students that actually want to buy on campus and lower prices during the actual school year (Sept. – April).

  18. Jean-Philippe Dubé

    Chartwells?!? Sérieusement….

    Quand j’ai entendu dire que l’université allait en appel d’offres pour de meilleurs services alimentaires, je pensais qu’il y avait une lueur d’espoir…. Je dois avouer que je prends cette nouvelle comme une claque dans la face. Quand je ne peux pas avoir un repas raisonnable (en termes de portion, et de “repas santé”) en bas de 14$, j’ai l’impression de me faire arnaquer… par ma propre université. Pourquoi le prix d’un gatorade est de 3.25$ sur le campus, et les dépanneurs justes à côté du campus vendent le même produit aux alentours de 2$? Les heures d’ouverture du comptoir à salade d’UCU sont ridicules, les options santé sont celles qui sont les moins accessibles sur le campus! Est-ce trop demander d’avoir un campus en santé (ceci inclut la santé financière !)

  19. Bonnie

    Are you kidding? The amount of times I bought a lunch for $15 from the caf and been disgusted or disappointed is countless. Also, when you want some food at 4:00 or 5:00 in the spring/summer, you’re SOL because nothing is open.
    Absolutely ridiculous. Get out of here, Chartwells.

  20. JL

    The fact that there is not a single positive review from this article should be a red flag on it’s own for the University. I treated the caf as a very very last resort during exams and times when I couldn’t make food myself. It’s cheaper, better and more filling to walk to the market in 10 minutes and get some really good food…which is saying something since the byward market is an expensive tourist area

  21. MM

    U of O should be ashamed of themselves for renewing Chartwell’s contract. Outrageous prices. Such a scam, ugh.

  22. ML

    Did they really ask us? No one asked me, and I read every email and answer every survey. Chartwells is overpriced and disgusting.

  23. AD

    Clearly the students on campus were not consulted. Because if we had been, the contract with Chartwells would have been eliminated. This company overcharges for the terribly quality food.

  24. Cameron

    Thought I would chime in as well- I haven’t eaten at the uOttawa cafeteria since first year (five years ago) and I will continue this boycott until prices are reasonable. The cafeteria is an embarrassment for our students, I’d rather have nothing than over-priced Chartwells. Shame on uOttawa for not listening to its students year after year.

  25. Jean-Luc Martin

    Just look at the comments. There’s not one person that likes Chartwells. Not only is their food terrible, there should be laws against the prices they charge students.

    After having this chance to fix things, it’s obvious the University of Ottawa chose Chartwells for their bank account and not their students.

  26. Julian Wiesner

    How does Food Services think Chartwells makes any “effort to improve both service and quality levels.” I have seen nothing but ridiculous pricing and low variety. What is it we are paying so much for? Smiles on employees’ faces? More like smiles on Chartwells executives that they can dig an even deeper hole into students’ measly pockets. Not impressed whatsoever!

  27. Natalia

    The food in UOttawa is so expensive and not healthy at all. The options are very limited and the debit/credit card fee does not help at all. Really low quality food.

  28. Jordon Fedak

    As a student at the University of Ottawa for 5 years, there are three things that I can be assured of by the food services here yearly.

    1. The price will go up.
    2. The servings become smaller.
    3. The quality is subpar at best.

    To all the first year students who get suckered into the meal plans, do not get them. Learn to cook, it’ll save you more money than you could think.

  29. aman

    It is ridiculous how expensive the cafeteria food is! The University should be ashamed of themselves for taking advantage of students this way!

  30. Julien

    My initial hypothesis was that the reason they charged so much for food – far more than anywhere off campus – was because they paid the staff better. But nope – I ended up working there throughout the year, and I was paid minimum. So now my current hypothesis is that they charge this much because they can, since students get locked in via mandatory food plans. I get that this university has to find means to make money, but it seems unethical to charge so much for essentials to live and lock students into it.

  31. Ray

    Food is so expensive! Where is the student union? Food is so important in our life on campus, and where are they?

  32. Shaun Horner

    RE: Sabrina Abraham, Tuesday May 7th, 2013

    I was wondering if the contract specifications and all results be posted at the bottom of this article? If it was fair, and is transparent, then this should be no problem and I believe that this information should be provided to the students. I would be interested in reviewing it, and I’m sure many other students would as well.

    “Thanks for your comments. Please note that the contract for food services on uOttawa campus was awarded through a transparent and fair bidding process.

    Merci pour vos commentaire. Svp veuillez prendre note que le contrat pour les services alimentaires sur le campus de l’Université d’Ottawa a été accordé à la suite d’un processus d’appel d’offres transparent et équitable.”

  33. Aaron

    Oh, I got a $500 meal plan in first year. When I had $3 left on my card, I went to get a pizza. The pizza cost more than $3, of course, but they wouldn’t let me pay half in student card and half in money. Made me wonder how much money they suck out of students by having this unusable credit expire. And this is one of the more minor issues.

  34. Chris Clarke

    Chartwells is universally condemned by students. This is a step in the wrong direction. No wonder it was released during the summer break so that students would be less aware of the decision.

    Students are continually having to look off campus to save money on essential food items. The rise in the the use of the food bank and Loblaws “10% Student Days” day off are proof of that.

    The Administration blatantly protected a monopoly that offers poor services at an even worse price. The protection of the University’s bottom line is being directly paid for out of student wallets. This entire article is a farce!

  35. Sylvie

    Je ne peux pas croire que ca va être encore Chartwells…….épouvantable!!!! La nourriture est affreuses, les prix extrêmement dispendieux….la pizzza toujours très dur comme de la roche!! Pauvres étudiants, en plus de payer cher pour finir étudier, ils doivent manger de la bouffe affreuses…..Tu dois payer presque $4.00 pour une soupe, une très petite poutine à $4,50, liqueur $2.25, et j’en passe…..Les spéciales du midi sont très dispendieux…dans toute cafétéria normale, il y a toujours de très bons spéciaux le midi à moins de $6.00! S.v.p. réveiller vous et penser aux étudiants de grace!!!!!

  36. Yolande

    Triste nouvelle, je ne peux croire que c’est Chartwells, la bouffe est tellement dégueulasse en plus d’avoir des
    prix exorbitant. Le prix pour une soupe c’est ridicule (j’veux pas avoir une douzaine de cannes de soupe).

    Pour ce qui est du service ça fait pitié, le bilinguisme, l’Univesité d’Ottawa est une université bilingue.

    On devrait être capable de se faire servir en français.

    Au diable Chartwells