After a year of contemplation, an anonymous student group took initiative and voiced their opinion about Aramark’s food quality at the UTSA Roadrunner Cafe. In February, the students began a petition which aimed to remove Aramark food services from UTSA.
Aramark supplies food, not only for the Roadrunner Café, but also for all of the food establishments on campus, and they cater the majority of banquets and events held on campus. Consequently, Aramark’s central control on campus food affects students on campus dining and housing decisions.
Originally these students – who chose to remain anonymous – planned to email President Romo himself, however afraid of not being taken seriously, they decided to appeal to the student body with the hope that there was power in numbers. With hopes of getting students and alumni to back them up, the group went to change.org and started the “Aramark UTSA” petition.
The petition’s main concern is the Roadrunner Cafe’s poor food quality and unreasonable meal plan prices. For instance, students who live in Laurel Village, Alvarez Residence Hall and Chaparral Village have to purchase one of the meal plan options.
The group of students stated that their reasoning behind the petition was “because as UTSA students ourselves, we have experienced first hand the monopoly Aramark has on UTSA, a monopoly that has unfortunately resulted in extremely sub-par and mediocre food venues.”
Jeff Schilder – the Business Affairs chair in Student Government Association and a Laurel Village resident who spoke only for himself personally – claimed UTSA and Aramark are in the process of making things better with the Roadrunner Cafe. He agreed that the food conditions could be better, but emphasized that SGA has made efforts to voice the known concerns of the students.
One of the main concerns the petition raises suggests that students were not being heard when they voiced their concerns about Aramark. When asked about what Aramark was currently doing to get student feedback about their services, Schilder mentioned that Aramark “has cards at the cash registers with contact information as well as social media accounts.”
After receiving under-cooked meat at the Café numerous times, Schilder decided to get involved with the Student Government Association. As a Type-1 diabetic, he understands first hand the importance of eating quality food. Although he did not sign the petition, Schilder stated that the Roadrunner Cafe “could stand to improve their quality of food.”
This past year, Aramark extended the hours of the Roadrunner Café to remain open an hour later and placed hand sanitizer machines by the entrance and exit to increase sanitary conditions. There has also been talk about UTSA acquiring a food truck (that would be run by Aramark) to give students more food options on campus.
When asked about the likelihood of UTSA getting rid of Aramark, Schilder stated that it would very costly for the school to break their contract, which expires in 2020. Making it seem unlikely for Aramark to be going anywhere, anytime soon.
Senior Economics major, Stephanie Killam stated after 2 years of eating at the Café she noticed that during the day when faculty is present the food and presentation increase. Whereas later in the day when more students frequent the Roadrunner Café.
Killam feels that it is pointless for Aramark to offer an unlimited meal plan option “when they have students wanting to visit the café (at most) once per day.” Killam also believes that “if UTSA wants to get to tier one status perhaps they should consider leaving out their Aramark business partner.”
The petition has been floating around since February fifteenth and currently only four hundred and fifty-five students and alumni have signed the petition out of the five thousand-signature goal.
The students who started the petition had one goal in mind – “to persuade UTSA into demanding Aramark to either significantly improve its service to UTSA, or leave and be replaced by a more competent provider. They also “hope this victory would echo out to the UTSA student body and motivate them to be more involved within our growing university.”