Students want more variety, better pricing on food options at SAIT

Main canteen: Johnson-Cobbe Energy Centre is a popular lunchtime destination for students, largely due to the presence of two major franchises, Starbucks and Subway, located on the main floor of the building. (Photo by Desmond Yau/The Press)

Students are generally happy with the dining options available on campus at SAIT, but some have reservations about variety and pricing.

According to a survey conducted on March 28, seven-out-of-10 students were satisfied with the available options. External franchises like Tim Hortons and Subway are the primary choices for many students, offering mainly bakery items.

“I would say most of them are not bad; the food at 4Nines Diner is pretty good though,” said student Zack Wong.

Those looking for home-cooked food can head to the canteen in the John Ware Building, which is managed by the School of Hospitality and Tourism.

There, the 4Nines Diner serves breakfast and lunch, such as spaghetti, sandwiches and rice bowls; and the Culinary Campus International Market offers various meats and salad dishes.

One of the major points of feedback from students was around food variety, given the significant number of international students at SAIT, including those from East Asia, India, or the Middle East, who may have different eating habits from the local mainstream.

“It’s pretty limited in options. Not limited actually, it’s just nothing.”

“There’s nothing that’s categorized at all other than like non-meat options or vegan options. My suggestion would be that they should diversify their food options for sure.”

Holly Parks, the project coordinator of commercial services at SAIT, pointed out there is a lack of some options.

“When you get into things like halal, I mean, that’s a bit more challenging for some of the partners because of the actual process in which halal is,” she said.

“So, when slaughtering all of it, (providers like) Tim Hortons is not able to provide halal food.”

However, regarding variety, Parks says SAIT has been committed to providing different kinds of food to students with various eating habits.

“The food partners that we work with are also able to offer substitutes for gluten, dairy allergies, ongoing allergies,” she said.

“So, when somebody has a lot of allergies, being in a dining center, for example, works with the students to accommodate those that are meal plans with dietary restrictions.”

Pricing is also a significant concern for students.

“The price for most of the food is not cheap, especially since we couldn’t find any discount offer for students here,” said student Alf Chu.

Wong agreed.

“Dining places outside campus do offer discounts to students, but this is not the case within the SAIT campus,” said Chu.

In addressing the limitations in food variety and pricing, some students bring homemade meals to consume on campus, despite potential wait times of around 15 minutes during peak hours for microwave access.

External franchises: Holly Parks, SAIT’s project coordinator of commercial services, negotiates with potential external franchise partners and assesses factors like food quality and pricing before establishing cooperation. (Photo by Desmond Yau/The Press)
About Desmond Yau 1 Article
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Desmond Yau is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.