The Grand Café in the Forum has been serving fast and affordable hot meals from 6 September, thanks to the efforts of the Wageningen Student Council. In 2009, the executive board of Wageningen UR stopped subsidizing the last two public student canteens, which belonged to SSR-W and KSV St. Franciscus. How’s the food in the new Wageningen student canteen?
Susan: 'In spring, we conducted a survey among more than one thousand students, both local and international. The results showed that 87 percent of the respondents wanted a canteen. Their main reason was to be able to have a quick meal for a good price. They considered the Forum as a suitable venue.'
Judith: 'We presented the results to the Executive Board in June. We told them that there was no getting around these. Our survey also showed how often students would want to eat in the canteen. The frequency was so high as to arouse the interest of Albron.'
Susan: 'We attended the opening of the new student canteen together with some of the committee members. I had a delicious meal. Vegetable soup was the starter, chicken pilaf, the main course, with Viënnette ice-cream and a glass of wine. I'd tell others to try eating there for a change. It's particularly convenient after lectures, of if you are part of a big group. You don't have to cook for ten at home.'
Marion Hendriks (23), forest and nature conservation student:
'Well, it's not bad at all. It's quite delicious, actually. Eating here is convenient and saves me time. The furnishing is about just right: cosy enough to sit down for a while, but also lacking in something that you wouldwant to leave after some time. The only thing I miss here is more sofas.'
Olga Kovesa (25), student of Management Economics and Consumer Studies:
'Honestly speaking, I had expected to get more for my money: In Germany, you get more meat and vegetables for two or three euros, not just mousse. Other than this, I'm satisfied. It's nice to sit here. It's not like a typical student canteen, but more like a restaurant.'
Chris Burger, Albron waiter/cook:
'Since the opening two weeks ago, it's getting more and more crowded. It isn't enough to make profits yet, but things are picking up. In any case, we try our best to make it inviting: serving instead of taking orders at the counter, a bottle of wine on the table, and so on. Most of our customers are very nutrition conscious. Therefore, we try to serve healthy food: not just fries, but also rice, pasta and stamppot. And of course, coleslaw to go with.'
Joost Huijbregts (23), Animal Sciences student:
'It's a good thing that we can eat here in the evenings. The other student canteens have closed down. Not that the food there was tasty, but it's convenient if you don't have time to cook.'
Debbie Kielstra, Albron's overall catering manager for Wageningen UR:
'Since 6 September, we've started serving hot meals in the Grand Café. It isn't doing badly and it's getting better. Currently, we have 70 to 75 diners each day. If we have about 150 diners daily, we will be fairly stable financially.
The survey conducted by the Student Council showed clearly that there was a demand for a student canteen. So we worked out the concept together with Wageningen UR and the Student Council, and examined its feasibility. This is a first and we have nine months to make it work.
We charge €3.95 for the main course, and €1 for soup or dessert. Drink prices have been reduced to make it more appealing to order a drink. Soft drinks now cost €1.10 instead of €1.50, and a beer costs €1.50.
We get positive comments during payment. We have decided to offer plate service, which means that diners are served at their tables. They like that. They are also satisfied with the food. To cater to international students and staff, we vary the menu somewhat. We don't serve Dutch food every day. It's important that the food is good. Then people will come back.'
Eline Unk (18), first year Animal Sciences student:
'I come here every day since its opening. The menu has variety and I believe that attention is also given to the 'wheel of five'. But I think that the portions are getting smaller. I've just told the waiter that too. You can do that if you eat here every day.'
The entire executive body of Porculum, the association for intensive livestock farming:
'The pork belly pieces can be bigger; we think that they're too small. Will we come again? We will if meat from intensive livestock farms is on the menu.'
Valerie Laurent (27), PhD student from France:
'A drink is all I need this time. But not because of what's on the menu. I've just seen what's being served: stamppot, the only proper Dutch dish. If the timing is right, I'll certainly have a bite here.'
Pien Verbeek (21) and Laura Oosterbeek (22), Management Economics and Consumer Studies students:
Pien: 'This is the third time I'm eating in the student canteen. It's downright cheap and that's why I like it here. And I hate to wash dishes, so this does it.'
Laura: 'Our lectures on Monday end at a quarter past six. It's convenient to eat here then; you don't need to go to the supermarket the moment you reach home.'
The menu can be found on intranet, under Services > Facilities > Food and Drink > Menus
Alexandra Branderhorst, Teuntje de Glee