UBC Undergraduate Research

Historical evolution of the UBC Food System Annandale, Justine; Herman, Claire; Hussein, Zahra; Li, Sabrina; Poffenberger, Sarah; Smit, Rosanne Apr 3, 2002

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UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report       The Historical Evolution of the UBC Food System Justine Annandale, Claire Herman, Zahra Hussein, Sabrina Li, Sarah Poffenberger, Rosanne Smit  University of British Columbia AGSC 450 April 3, 2002           Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.       The Historical Evolution of the UBC Food System    Term Project AGSC 450  April 3, 2002              Group 17 J usti ne Annandal e Clair e Her man Zahr a Hussei n Sabr ina Li Sar ah Pof fenber ger Rosa nne Smi t   2  Abstract A hist orical evaluation of the UBC food s yst em was car ried out using archi val material and discussi ons with UBC alum ni.  The goal was to investi gate the evolut ion of the UBC food services throu ghout its ex istence and det ermine t he sust ainabili t y of the s ystem.  This report includes recomm end ati ons for future rese arch to guide mor e in -depth inve sti gati ons into the chall en ges of th e syst em   The information obt ained fro m historical data was used to demonst rate the changes that took place an d give insi ght as to how the system could be improved in order to be c ome more sust ainable in the future.    Introduction In an ef fort to promot e fu ture sust ainabili t y of the UBC food s ystem, we to ok an in -depth look at the hist orical dev elopm ent and evolut ion of the syst em. Our int enti on was to identi f y previous chall en ges that the students presented to t he food servic es, includi ng the problems that the system en counter ed, and to offer possi ble reco mm endati ons to improve the future suc ces s of the food s yst em at UBC.  W e ini ti all y investi gated the gener al histor y and evolut ion of UBC to gain back ground information that would help us to bett er understan d the chall en ges o f the fo od s ystem.  We then resea rched mo re closel y through content analysis,  the important historical developm ents of the UBC food se rvices b y reviewing Ub yss e y news cli ppings that provided stu dent perspe cti ves.  By investi gati n g other archiv al material that gav e adm ini strati ve accounts of th e UBC food s ystem hist or y, and discussi n g fo od service iss ues with UBC alum ni, we were enli ghten ed to the student perspecti ve.  Th e majorit y of the acquir ed res ear c h information came from student concerns with the food servic es that were in place at the time, an d the actual ch an ges mad e t o the ex panding campus to help meet the students’ demands on the food system. The main issues that will be discussed are thos e that arose durin g the decades after the universit y be cam e adequ atel y establi shed (the mid - 1940’s to 1970’s).  The focus of th e res ear ch was to determi ne the ev olut ion of the UBC food services, the goals of th e s yst em, how the y chan ged ov er the ye ars, as well as the over all sust ainabili t y of the UBC food s ystem throu ghout its historical ex istence.  We conc entrated mainl y on the socia l and economi c sust ainabili t y of the food s ystem, with some ref eren ce to the envi ronmental aspe cts.   3  This was beca use enviro nmental sus tainabil it y was not an iss ue that previo usl y garn ered mu ch att enti on.  We also made inqui ries as to wh y the fo od s ystem d ev eloped the wa y it did, and how transit ions were mad e ov er the ye ars to accomm odate incre ased awar eness in the sust ainabili t y of the sy st em.   The objecti ve of this rep ort was to learn from pas t achievements and probl ems withi n the s ystem in orde r to prov ide us wit h suggesti ons for future dev elopm ent and further res ear ch.  Our hope is that this investi ga ti on int o the hist or y of th e food servic es at UBC will lead us towards a sust ainable future.  With att ainable goals that refle ct what we have le arned, a su ccess ful transit ion towards a sust a inable food s ystem can be achiev ed.  Underlying value assumptions in the report S ince the UBC food s yst em is a service for the stu dents,      our approach to the evolut ion of the food s ystem was student -cente red.  Our paper draws from stude nt opi nions on various fac et s of the UBC food s ystem that the al umni were con cern ed about.  Student values ref lected their indi vidual ri ghts; students were able to ini ti ate change, and frequentl y spoke out agai nst issues that negati vel y influenced their univ ersity ex perien ce.  Th e co ncerns of the students chan ged throu ghout ye ar s, but gen erall y en compa ssed social iss ues of overcro wding and lack of social spac e cor respond ing with a rapidl y growin g student popul ati on.  As well , economi c con ce rns of high food pricin g were on the minds of UBC students.  Students felt ex ploi ted as food ser vice mana gement sought to make a profit .  Onl y in more re cent ye ars with the gro wing awa ren ess of environmental pro blems, have students star ted voicing their concern on ecolo gic al matt ers re gardin g the UBC food s ystem, such as de c reasin g the amount of waste produc ed.  Overall students have been int e r ested in getti ng quali t y fo od at a che ap pric e.  As a group, we wer e int e rested in a more int e grati ve view that en compasse d not onl y indi vidual rights of the st udents, but also the UBC comm unit y as a whol e.  In thi s regard, we were int e rested in the eco nomi c, environmental an d social aspects of studen ts and the food s ystem.  Our group consi der s a desir able UBC foo d s ystem to be one th at reali z es student rights an d does not e x ploi t them.  Moreover, the s ystem shoul d work with the UBC comm unit y to enhance the food system’s sustainability.  The ideal UBC food system would create minimal  4  waste, provide students with facil it ies, not onl y to eat but also to stud y an d so cializ e, and have healt h y, in ex pensive food.   The Approach to Research Much of the resea rch wa s carried out in the archiv al and special coll ecti ons department of the UBC Main Libra r y.  Alumni were also cont ac ted to obtain first hand information rega rdin g eati ng establi shments an d food opti ons/ prefer enc es on campus throu gh the various dec ades.   The findings were then cate goriz ed int o decades and t he most important events were described below.   UBC food system evolution   UBC was establi shed in 1915 and had a few build ings, admini strati on offic es and a cafet eria.  En rollm ent skyr o cketed in the late 1940’s, causing a trend in increased construction and the establi shment of food outl ets.  Enroll ment has incre ased from 379 s tudents in 1915/16 to a total of jus t over 53,00 0 students in 1999/2000 1 .  These numbers do not i nclude staff and fac ult y that were pr esent on campus ; this group m ust be noted as a part of t he universit y food s ystem.  1920’s   In thi s de cade, th e univer sit y was jus t gett ing esta bli shed and en rollm ent slowl y increased. In the 1920’s, students were able to purchase breakfast, lunch and dinner on campus.  There was a lunch counte r and a caf eteria in the basement of the renov ated audit orium . These renovati ons eli mi nated hast y me als and improved th e cleanli ness of the facil it ies.  The cafet eria also began ser ving dinne r in this decade.  This mo ve was prop a gated b y a high demand from students who remained on campus durin g the ev e ning.  The caf eteria and t he lunch counter both empl o yed a dietit ian. 1930’s After a generous gov ern ment gr ant $625,000 in 1930, depressi on hit in 1932, salaries were subs equentl y cut, courses dropped and summer sessions cut back. Despit e the stead y increas e of the unive rsit y budget, fin ancial probl e ms sti ll ex ist ed.  Ex pansio n was need ed due to overcro wding.  With the advent of war in 1939, the universit y was se en as a source of manpower, technology and science resources.  A lunch counter was opened in the late 30’s,  5  offerin g much needed fo od services of full meals and snacks to students fr om 7am to 8pm (Ub yss e y 1 , 1938).  1  http :// www. l ib r ar y. ub c. ca /sp c o ll/ub c_ ar ch/enr o l mn t ht ml  1940’s   During the early 1940’s, the university’s importance was amplified as on - c ampus mili tar y traini ng was carried out and the gov ernment used l abs and equipm ent durin g the war efforts .  When the w ar end ed ther e was a frenz y of const ru cti on and developm ent at the universit y.  Th e campus  ex panded with man y new buildi ngs (alt ho ugh some non -p erman ent), most of which was funded b y students.  Afte r WW II, the gove rnment funded const ru cti on for defense related and other rese ar ch and buil dings were erected to hous e the veter ans comi n g ba ck from the war.  Du e to increased enrollment (tripled through the late 40’s) and more people on campus, snack bars and other food outl ets we re added to reli eve con ge sti on at mealt im es.  Twent y new buildi n gs were compl eted betw een 1947 -51 (re fer ence ). 1950’s   In 1950, th ere wer e 15 fo od dispensing unit s on campus but no provisi ons were mad e in the university’s budget for food servic es (Ub ysse y 2 , 1950 ).  It was deemed necessa r y to elim inate food services, as the cost s of operati on were not covered b y me al prices.  Deals on meal tickets encoura ged students to purchase tick ets and ther ef ore aided bud get -conscio us students (Ub yss e y 3 , 1950).  Dr. MacKenz ie, then pr esident of UBC, mad e it clear th at food in the cafet eria and other unive rsit y-cont rolled inst it uti ons would be prepa red un der scientific and sanit a r y condit ions.  The cafet eria was seen as an overcro wded and poo rl y venti lat ed area.  This sit uati on was due to the lar ge numbe r of fr aternit y, sororit y and other or gan iz ati ons who used the cafet eria as a meeti n g pla ce. In 1957, the consol idation of Food Servic es wit h UBC housi ng was accompani ed b y the servi ng of 7500 -100,000 meal s a month (Lo gan, 1958). 1960’s  In the early 1960’s campus expansion was fuelled by “baby- boomer” students starting their universit y car eers. This led to the const ructi on of the Totem and Ga ge residen ces and the Student Union Buil ding (SUB). 20% of th e 32 000 ft 2  SUB buil ding was des ignated for Food Services (Ub yss e y 4 , 196 3). The SUB in cluded tw o cafet erias accomm odati ng 900 peopl e, two small meeti ng dini ng roo ms, and two snack ba rs seati ng 800 people.  In ad dit ion, a drinki ng lounge and a vendin g alc ove wi th six units were included to reli eve som e of the pressur e from  6  the prim ar y food se rvice facil it ies. Eventuall y the AMS would take over th ese food se rvices.  Despit e selli ng in ex cess of 8000 cups per week (Ub ysse y 5 , 1963), coff ee on campus gained the reco gnit ion of bein g infa mous l y bad (Ub yss e y 6 , 1964). 1970’s  P rices of meals in the SU B were hiked to the dism a y of students, staff and facult y.  In flati on was used as the scape goat, as students fel t the SUB had raised pric es in order to offset mortga ge pa yments (Ub ysse y 7 , 1974).  Student gri evanc es conti nued as the price of a cup of coffe e was inc re ased to $ 0.15 yet cups wer e 15% s maller than previous ye ar s.  In 1971, Inte rnati onal House st art ed selli ng hot lunches co nsis ti ng of diffe rent ethni c foods.  Sandwi ches started at $0.35 wit h full lunches costing up to $0. 85 (Ub yss e y 8 , 1971).  1980’s  In the 1980’s, incentive programs were implemented to decrease amount of food packa gin g, such as foam cups (Blu e Chip handed out an aver a ge of 500 a day) .  These pro grams were offe red as inc enti ve programs as students co uld receive a discount if the y brou ght their own cup.  Rec ycli n g was not avail able and students at the Student Environment Center beli eved th at a lack of student aw aren es s was at the route of the problem.  Students in Place Vani er residence were  also up in arms abo ut costs of the meal plan.  Additi onall y, residents were conce rned with the quali t y of food serv e d, in regards to subsequ e nt meals comprised of lef tovers.  A peti ti on was held the but no chan ge ca m e about. In the early 80’s, it was noted that UBC had the highest student pub beer pric es i n Canada ($1.15/bot tl e) and the Pit made an annua l profit of $60,000 (Ub yss e y 9 , 1980). 1990’s Accordin g to the 99/00 UBC calend ar, the re were 18 food servic e oper ati ons on campus .  The early 1990’s saw 28 acres of campus clear -cut and Hampt on Place deve loped on the sout heast end of the univ ersit y lands.  This 1600 resident developm ent was designed for hi gh -income investors and sus tainabil it y iss ues cropp ed up from the start.  An ex tra 1600 people, who were  to live but not work on campus , added to tr af fic con gesti on and pla ced further stress on th e food s ystem and other UBC  land use iss ues.  2000 and Beyond Currentl y the re are 27 fo od unit s open at UBC thr ough Food Servi c es (Parr , 2002).  These include cash ope ra ti ons (includi ng fr anchise s such as Bread Gard en), residenc es, mini - 7  marts, restaur ants and catering s ervic es.  The residences  se rve 1000 student s, 3 tim es a day year round.  Man y empl o yees are students, and input from current students is co nti nuall y int e grated into menu selections.  In the mid 90’s, Food Services operated without profit but since have increas ed ef ficienc y and have ther eb y eli mi nated operati n g loss es (U BC FS , 2001).  Ther e ar e future plans to develop s outh campus , including t he addit ion of a campus gro cer y stor e.   F rom a n ecolo gical pe rspecti ve, current students ar e conc e rned with environmentall y unf riendl y packa gin g, the la r ge amo unts of waste bein g gen er ated, and the la ck of com post ing (AGS C 450 , 20 02). In terms of soci al sus tainabil it y, with man y students and facult y on campus unti l the late evenin g, there ar e conc er ns with the current hours of operati on fo r food faci li ti es (Farr ell Research Group, 1996). As well , more recentl y, s tudents are con cern ed with a lack of “healthier” food alt ernati ves. As a result of the less disposable income of students, the economi c sust ainabili t y of the food s ystem is questi oned; we must face the issue of ho w mone y sp ent on food, as well as the value of mone y spent.  Finall y, in order to pro gr ess in an effe cti ve and efficient wa y, we must determi ne what are the ma in goals of Food Servic es .  Within their 5 - year plan, Food Services have expressed future goals of “providing products, service and retail environments [for th eir] custom ers, to improve the look and feel of speci fic outl ets, and to generate a net income of at least $400,000 per annum…” (UBCFS, 2001). Does this denote the goal of in cre asing profit s ?  Meeti ng student needs ?  Incr easin g quali t y of food?  From a stu dent perspecti ve, th ese questi ons stil l remain unanswe red.     Recommendations  S ocial Sustainabil it y The sust ainabili t y offi ce needs to conti nue reco gn iz ing that food and its co nsum pti on are large pa rts of campus life ; the y can not be sep arat e d from educ at ion or the ex tracurricular acti vit ies that occur on campus .  Therefo re, the sus tainabil it y offic e in conju ncti on with UBC food services mus t conti nue to bui ld food outl ets that provide adequ ate sea ti ng fa cil it ies as well as places wh ere stud ents can eat, stud y and hold group meeti ngs simul tane ousl y.  This can alread y be seen b y (1) th e ex pansion of the SUB cafete ria, (2) th e Chapman comm ons in Main Libr ar y, (3) Agora, and (4) Ridi ngton Comput er Lab in Main Libr ar y.  Th e Universit y shoul d be comm ended on these pop ular campus sit es and enc oura ged to continue to develop and inte grate such places.  As well , to promot e social sus tainabi li t y th e UBC food s yst em needs to offe r a wid e  8  variet y of healt h y alt erna ti ve food opti ons. Lastl y, given la r ge geo graphic space of UBC, it is important to evenl y dist ri bute food spac e ac ross ca mpus .   Ecologic al Sustainabil it y The sust ainabili t y offi ce must devise a plan for co mbating the lar ge amoun t of waste that is gen erat ed on campus du e to its food and bevera ge services.  Th e u niversit y needs to ex pand their campai gn regardin g disc ounts for students who br ing reus able cont ainers, coffee mu gs, utensil s.  These campai gns need to be bett er adv ertised so st udents are awar e of the associated incenti ves and ini ti ati ves.  The sust ainab ility office also needs to get on the “composting” bandwagon.  Much of the food waste i s transported off campus when it could be compos ted on campus and then used b y Plant Opera ti ons to maintain soil quali t y of the gardens and un iversit y grounds. Additi onall y, the food s ystem can work tow ards conti nuing the relations hi p between waste mana g ement of food serv ice outl ets on campus .   Economi c Sustainabil it y In order to promot e th e economi c sust ainabili t y of the UBC food s ystem, pr ices shoul d be reasonabl e to meet the bu dget - conscious students’ expectations. In order to keep prices low, it shoul d be an ex pectation of the universit y to suppo rt its food facil it ies in som e re ga rd.  Howev er, the low cost of food shou ld not compromi se student access to nutrit ious an d adequate meals.  An alt ernati ve app roach m a y be to consider incr easin g the number of student empl o yees at food service venues and cut ba ck on the cost of union staff to oper ate the food se rvice facil it ies.  Further Questions 1.  W hat is the role of the SUB wit hin the UBC food s ystem? 2.  W hat chall enges does the SUB fa ce in regards to sustainabil it y on campus ? 3.  Evaluate the evolut ion of franchises on campus .  4.  W h y is the re cu rrentl y m ore apath y amongst stude nts toda y wh en compar e d to the passi onate outcries of the earli er dec ades? 5.  How has franchisi n g af fe cted consum er choice ov er the ye ars? 6.  W hat are the ch an ges tha t have result ed from the poli ti cal and social agend as of the universit y? 7.  Link the evolut ion of waste mana gement with tha t of the UBC food s yste m.  9  8.  How has the use and distribut ion of vending ma ch ines affe cted  consum er choice (i.e. healt h y alt ernati ves)? 9.  How has the wa y food is produced on campus cha nged? (i.e. what off -cam pus indust ries are incorporated in the UBC food s ystem and what is the cap acit y of their i nvol vement) 10.  Over the ye ars, to wh at ex tent has the UBC food sys tem made an effort to use  locall y based products? 11.  How would the interpr etation of the hist orical evo lut ion of the food s ystem look if it were taken from a non -student center ed persp ecti ve? (i.e . through the e yes o f a franchise? AMS? UBC Food Se rvices? ) 12.  Describe th e transit ions between the relative emphasis placed on the different s ectors of sust ainabili t y.   Conclusion Despit e indi vidual differ ences betw een decad es, s everal p roblems have pe r sis ted throughout the hist or y of the UBC food s ystem. These problems hav e inclu ded overc rowdin g and the unfair pricin g practi ces. Primaril y, an y ch a nge tow ards the bett erme nt of the food s yst em on campus has be en the result of student voi ce. Student gri ev anc es on thes e iss ues brou ght students to work togethe r in an effort to improve t he sust ainabili t y of the s ystem. Whereas the problems of the past centered on prim a ril y so cial and economi c sust ainabili ty factors, toda y the re ex ist s the need to focus on all three asp ects of sust ainabili t y: economi c, so c ial and ecolo gical.  By  workin g with UBC Food Services, communi t y members on campus (w hether the y are students, residents, staff or facult y) can wo rk tow ards a more sust ainable food s ystem that is more environmentall y friendl y, economi call y viab le and social responsi ble than at present.   10  References  Ags c 450 students.  Facu lt y of Agri cult ural Scienc es. Personal communi cat ion. March 2002.  Far rell Resea rch Group Ltd.  UBC Food Servi ces Mini -groups Ex ploring Cus tom er Needs.  Submi tt ed to UBC Food Services. Octob er 1996.  Lo gan, Har r y, T.  Tuum est; a hist or y of th e Univ ersit y of Britis h Col umbia (1908 -1958). Universit y of Briti sh Columbi a, Vancouve r. 1958.  Parr, Andr ew. Dire ctor of Food Servic es, person al comm un icati on. March 6, 2002.   UBC Student Enrolm ent Figu res, 1915 -p resent htt p:/ /www.li brar y.ub c.c a/spcoll /ubc_arch/ enrolm nt.ht ml Last revised: J une 2000 Visi ted March 21, 2002  UBC Food Se rvices (UBC FS ). Five Year Busines s Plan. Februa r y 2001.  Ubyss ey 1 . Ult r a Moder n Lunch Count er Opens . Sept . 23, 1938  Ubyss ey 2 . Caf et eri a Conditi ons Expl ai ned by Pre si dent MacK enzi e . Feb. 23, 1950  Ubyss ey 3 . Bigger , cheaper meal s pl anned for st udent s. Oct ober 27, 1950  Ubyss ey 4 . Stude nt Uni on Spec ial . Oct ober 29, 1963  Ubyss ey 5 . It isn’t just exclusive – just cr owded. Sept ember 10, 1963  Ubyss ey 6 . Bus Stop Ahea d 7500 Cups. Mar ch 7, 1964  Ubyss ey 7 . The UBC food pri ce stor y. Sept ember 26, 1974  Ubyss ey 8 . Aut hent ic Int er nat ional Hot Lunches . Sept . 21,1971   Ubyss ey 9 . Pit Patr ons Highes t in Canada , But so are Pri ce s. Oct . 9, 1980  Ubyss ey. Uni ver si t y Clamps Down on Soci al Use of Caf et eri a . Sept. 22, 1948            


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