Science - November 6, 2008

FUTURE OF MENSAS UNSURE

Student associations KSV St. Franciscus and SSR-W are deploring the fact that as of 1 July 2009 they will no longer receive a subsidy from Wageningen UR and through this loss they there is a chance that they will also lose their public function. Students and employees will probably quite shortly be able to return to the Forum for their evening meal. However, it will be more expensive than it was having a bite at a mensa.

Students have dinner at SSR-W.
Pumpkin-tomato soup, Indonesian nasi with chicken and beans, Tuscan steak, roasted rosemary potatoes, salad, cinnamon custard and fresh fruit. This is but a random selection from the weekly menus at SSR-W and KSV St. Franciscus where you can a three course meal for only 3,70 euros. Well, not for much longer.

‘We cannot yet assess the consequen¬ces’, was the reaction of Margot Baas, chairperson for the SSR-W. There are a number of possibilities, such as keeping the mensas open for everyone or open only for members or closed for all. The following week we will meet to talk about this and brainstorm with the members. It will be great if the university will at least consider still offering some financial sup¬port to the solution we will be considering’.

The Board of Directors decided last week to cut off the subsidy saying the mensas have no true public function and that there is no real need for them. Based on their investigation it appears that a great deal of the mensa’s visitors are themselves members of the associations, with about one third of the visitors having no connection to Wageningen UR. Baas does not know the precise numbers, but said that for the most part it is students who come there for a meal.

The KSV St. Franciscus is also taking a look at the possibilities for the future according to Lies Zandberg, mensa coördinator. The mensas will very likely be open until July 2009. However, if the associations will continue taking care of evening meals beyond then remains an open question. The caterer Albron has plans in the works to serve warm evening meals in the Forum building. Catering manager Bas Luiten said that, ‘Çertainly, as the educational function becomes more centered around the campus in the future, Forum will be a great location.. Plans are not yet entirely concrete. We do have it in writing that we are not allowed to compete with the mensas.’ Luiten admitted that competition would be rather difficult for Albron as a commercial business to offer a full three course meal for 3,70 euros.

The introduction of evening meals at Forum will involve close deliberations with Wageningen UR. Depending on the client’s concrete order, we can have everything up and running within a couple of weeks. However, that order is not yet ready. According to Simon Vink, spokesman for Wageningen UR,
there is no special agenda involved in cancelling the mensas’ subsidy. We have no particular interest in seeing a firm such as Albron set up in Forum. The SSR-W and KSV mensas were, in fact, patronized only by their members and have not served as major facilities in which it would make sense to invest such large sums of money. However, if the situation arises where there is a problem with meal service for students, then we will certainly revisit this issue.’

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