Letter to the Editor: University should not renew its dining contract with Aramark

University student government leaders are concerned by Aramark’s company ethics.

We deserve better on-campus food options. Students who observe kosher or halal should not need to wait 25 to 30 minutes to receive food. Vegan and vegetarian students deserve to eat more than just salad every night. Students should not need to fear salmonella or E. coli because of runny eggs or undercooked meats. Students deserve to eat without fear of allergic reactions due to mislabeling. 

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has contracted with Aramark Corporation for more than 20 years to provide food service to the campus through residential dining halls, on-campus restaurants, coffee shops and other venues. After two decades of subpar performance, the Minnesota Student Association is disappointed to see the University seriously consider renewing its contract with Aramark. 

Not only has Aramark consistently failed in delivering quality, nutritious and dietary-accessible food, it also has a long history of engaging in labor violations, not meeting food safety standards and providing services to for-profit prisons, as well as the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

Thus far, University administration has failed to engage the student voice in its decision-making. However, students, staff, faculty and other community members are the biggest stakeholders in this decision and deserve to have their feedback heard. In light of Aramark’s past performance and actions, we urge the University to discontinue its current contract and choose another option, such as transitioning to self-operated dining. 

Self-operated dining (i.e. dining managed and operated by the University) could open up possibilities to work with local vendors, use more responsibly-sourced foods and reinvest any profits back into the University. We acknowledge that self-operated dining has its own unique challenges surrounding food quality, sustainability and accessibility, but we believe it is a better option than renewing our contract with Aramark, a company that has a proven track record of prioritizing profits over students’ experiences. 

Christina Busche serves as the MSA Campus Life Director, and Simran Mishra serves as the MSA President.

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.