Come this September, students at Brandon University may notice changes to Harvest Hall, the campus cafeteria.
The university has hired Nicholas Namespetra to be its new manager of food services.
Namespetra most recently ran a consulting business helping out restaurants and food service businesses, but before that he was the executive chef at the University of Ottawa.
A survey is currently being circulated to students, staff and faculty at the university asking them what they’d like from campus food services. Namespetra said that the food hall serves an average of 1,000 people a day when class is in session.
"They want quality, they want local, they want sustainable products, they want fair trade products," Namespetra said, relaying highlights from the survey responses he has collected thus far.
"They want to make sure they’re helping the planet at the same time they’re getting really good food."
The new dining experience will include foods from a greater variety of cultures and will include special theme meals throughout the year to keep things fresh. There will also be a build-your-own station where guests can add ingredients of their choice to a base dish like stir-fry or gnocchi.
According to Namespetra, there will be fewer pre-made meals served and more that have been made from scratch.
When asked if the changes would end up costing students more, Namespetra said that the new menu would give better value for money spent.
"If you’re paying more money for a bad product you’re not happy, but if you’re paying the same amount you were previously for a better product, you would be happier," he said.
To keep in touch with students’ wants and needs, Namespetra said that he’ll be frequently sitting in the dining hall to make himself available for comments and critiques.
"I can plan a menu and say it’s going to be great and I can deliver great food, but even if I deliver the best and (students) say that they don’t like it, then I’m going to adjust, because it’s going to be for them."
In a statement, Brandon University Students’ Union vice-president internal Whitney Hodgins said, "We are very happy to be seeing the new direction that the university's new food services manager has moved forward with by incorporating more locally sourced foods as well as more options for vegetarians and vegans on campus. This, we believe, is a step in the right direction."
Hodgins added that food options for vegetarian and vegan students have been limited in the past.
Visitors to campus will be able to see these changes first-hand once classes resume in less than a month. While not everything will be ready for Sept. 1, Namespetra said the transition will be complete by mid-October.
"It’s going to be new, it’s going to be fresh, and hopefully we can deliver the best food they’ve had in a long time."
» Twitter: @ColinSlark