U of W to see tasty change at campus eateries

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Jobs for dozens of inner-city residents, environmentally friendly local food and a renowned chef -- all coming soon to the University of Winnipeg campus.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/06/2009 (4987 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jobs for dozens of inner-city residents, environmentally friendly local food and a renowned chef — all coming soon to the University of Winnipeg campus.

The university’s Community Renewal Corporation will announce details today of a deal with SEED Winnipeg to create Diversity Food Services. It will provide all food services on campus, including all three cafeterias, the food plan for the new student residence and catering.

SEED Winnipeg is a non-profit agency working to overcome poverty in the inner city.

It expects the new campus food plan will employ 25 people, including immigrants and aboriginals, to provide all food services on campus.

“There was a chance to do something quite different,” said U of W president Lloyd Axworthy. “We came to the conclusion that the existing food supplier was not meeting our needs.”

Students asked for far more options and for lower prices, said Axworthy, who said the cafeterias will serve fresh and local produce and a much wider range of dishes, including Middle Eastern and African food.

The food will reflect the cultural diversity of the campus, use local products wherever possible, and concentrate on environmentally friendly and healthy food.

Heading the operation will be executive chef Ben Kramer, formerly of Dandelion Eatery in Osborne Village. Operational manager will be Kirsten Godbout, formerly of Bread and Circuses.

“We will create authentic cultural food that is prepared from scratch using authentic ingredients and recipes. We will make our food alive with flavour and nutrition,” said Kramer. “We will start with food in its simplest, most natural form and will purchase local and seasonal products. Our freezers will be small and our intention to serve great food will be big.”

Axworthy said the employees will be able to acquire some ownership of Diversity Food Services as the new service develops.

He said U of W and its students are committed to the environment, sustainability and good health, but the current supplier was inflexible and unable to meet the needs of a diverse population.

SEED executive director Cindy Coker said there are groups working with recent immigrants from Sudan and Afghanistan who have obtained their food-handling certificates and could be considered for jobs.

“We will be able to do a pretty intensive training program in the summer. We will be accepting applications from a number of groups,” Coker said.

It will also be a chance for SEED to model a community business venture, “a workplace where they know their culture will be respected,” she said.

The new food service comes into effect this summer at the expiration of the contract of the company that has served the campus for the past five years.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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