Morgan La Casse
The two-year extension of the University of Minnesota’s contract with Aramark provides the Board of Regents with more time to explore becoming an independent food service provider. While the University is in this transition period, we should not forget our power as customers of Aramark. If Aramark is unwilling to make reasonable commitments to improve their track record, such as reducing the climate emissions from its menus by 20%, then the University should not renew this contract.
Last year, the Minnesota Student Association’s campaign against the University’s contract with Aramark dug up questions on the quality and accessibility of the food provided and the ethical standards the company follows. While the University remains a customer of Aramark, we have the responsibility to hold Aramark accountable for their environmentally unfriendly and inaccessible meals, the harm they perpetuate against communities of color, the unsafe working conditions and poor food quality the company provides in the prisons they serve.
During this interim, it is important to keep the conversation around Aramark going. Even when facing a climate crisis, Aramark continues to provide meat-heavy meals, with vegetarian and vegan options often being of poor quality. Halal and kosher meals are not nearly accessible enough. Lastly, the injustices that Aramark perpetuates against communities of color should be reason enough to break ties.
So, while the company seems unwilling to change, our contract with Aramark is large enough that WE can make an impact on their service both at our campus and in their practices all over the country. All we have to do? Ask. Demand climate healthy and accessible meals now! Demand accountability now!
Aramark is big enough that by agreeing to a climate healthy meal plan and cutting the meat offered on their menus by 20%, they would have a large impact on the emissions they produce. Demand by the University’s student body can force Aramark to take accountability and create change in their labor practices. Even in the fight to end the University’s contract with Aramark, we as students are still their customers, and we can demand and create change.
This letter is written by Lilli Ambort, a student at the University of Minnesota.
This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.