Dining hall
Students who have any questions or wish to voice their concerns are asked by the University to email Food Services for more details.Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik/Fulcrum
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Petitions have been created asking University to reverse course

The University of Ottawa’s Food Services has announced it will be ending the dining hall’s takeout program on Dec. 8. The service says it is excited to return to normal with the progressive lifting of restrictions which will allow the hall to return to a zero-waste, dine-in-only model. 

“Due to COVID-19, we offered takeout containers to accommodate capacity limits at the beginning of the academic year. With restrictions now being lifted, we’re returning to a zero-waste, dine-in-only model,” wrote the U of O’s Food Services in an email to students.

However, this decision by the University hasn’t been welcomed by all, as a petition has been started by students calling on the U of O to reverse this course of action. The petition also condemns the University for advertising the dining hall as operating for 24 hours a day when in reality it is only open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

“Hey, uOttawa students! The dining hall is trying to abolish the takeout program! … limiting the dining hall to dine-in only does not consider our limitations as students. Us students have paid upwards of $6,000 for our supposed “24/7” meal plan. For these plans to be changed from 24/7 to 7 [a.m.] to 11 [p.m.] AND limit us to dine-in only, is appalling,” reads the petition. 

The petition, which was created by first-year biomedical engineering student Ginger Pakrul and distributed on a first-year group chat, has amassed 187 signatures, according to Pakrul. The first-year student says this is one of two petitions that were started by students, the other being on and collecting 210 signatures at the time of writing.

Pakrul explained that she created the petition because the takeout program is “super beneficial” for first-year students, who often have classes back-to-back and only have ten minutes to grab a bite to eat. She also expressed concerns when it comes to wait times which she believes could drastically increase due to limited seating, a concern the university has told her they were to address by increasing seating, she says she hasn’t seen more spaces added. 

By no means were these petitions made to disregard the hard work of the food services team, [they are] our way as students to voice our opinion in a way we can,” she wrote in an email to the Fulcrum.

Pakrul isn’t the only student disappointed with the University’s decision to eliminate the program. Tyler Smale, a first-year history and political science student at the U of O who regularly uses the cafeteria’s takeout option also says he is not a fan of the University’s decision to end the program.

“I use it quite a lot and I know other students do too. It gave students the opportunity to access the food they pay for when they normally couldn’t due to the lack of time they have to sit in for a meal.”

“Also they’re saying the reason for ending it is to return to a zero-waste model, but they don’t seem to have any plan for all the reusable containers which will now be wasted and cause more harm to the environment,” added Smale.

Food services is asking students to return their reusable takeout containers to the dining hall on Dec. 9. 

Another issue for first-year students is proximity to the dining hall. As the University opens more and more residences off-campus, students have to come from further away to eat. Having the option to bring food back to residence meant for many that they could limit the number of trips per week they did to the University Centre if they were willing to live on leftovers. 

“People that live in residences that are further away, it’s more convenient for them to be able to take their food back instead of having to walk back and forth and stay here [for every meal],” said Kate Redwood, a first-year nursing student, to the Fulcrum in front of the dining hall entrance. 

Redwood’s friend, Colleen Matys, added that some of these residences, notably 45 Mann and Friel, are a fifteen-minute walk from the dining hall.

The University said in its email that students will “still be able to take a beverage in a travel mug and single-serve items such as a fruit or a muffin from the Dining Hall.” It will, however, ban students from bringing personal containers such as Tupperware and other packing meals-to-go, effectively eliminating students’ right to take food back to their residence. 

Students who have any questions or wish to voice their concerns are asked by the University to email Food Services for more details.