Nieuws - 23 september 2010

Eat-in protest at Leeuwenborch

Thirty five people took their own lunch with them to the Leeuwenborch on Wednesday 22 September. The eat-in was staged in protest against typical canteen food.

Three tables were loaded with exotic dishes. There was couscous, Spanish tortillas fresh salads, humus, soya yoghourt, fairtrade juice and organic milk. More than half the lunchers were from the international community. The protest was organized by Elizabeth Sargant, a PhD research from the Environmental Policy chair group. 'It is a protest but what I really want is to start a dialogue', says Sargant. 'We eat here every day; that is a routine. Today we make a break with the routine and show what sorts of things we like to eat: sustainable products, more variety, and things that international students like too.'
The people in charge of the Leeuwenborch building react to the eat-in with astonishment. Facilities manager Imre den Os: 'We do understand the point of the protest, but I would prefer to have been consulted in advance. Flyering is not allowed here at lunchtime. What is more, they used Albron's cutlery and they just took over three tables. The canteen staff don't know how they should react to something like that.'
But they were definitely not a nuisance, says Sargant. 'Nearly all the people eating with us are from the Leeuwenborch. They are always allowed to eat their own lunch here, so I don't understand what all the fuss is about. But perhaps I should have been a bit less forward about using the cutlery.'

The facilities manager at the Leeuwenborch sees it differently. Den Os: 'I also represent the interests of Wageningen UR. We have a responsibility towards the caterer. Albron rents the space, so during the lunch hour the space is Albron's. We are bound to contract agreements; I am not sure that is clear to the people who organized this protest.'
Whether there will be a dialogue between the two parties is a moot point. 'We are certainly open to new ideas', De Os emphasizes. 'But a dialogue is only meaningful if it is clear what our shared commitments are.'