Aramark, the catering company managing UCD’s Gerard Manly Hopkins building, is set to end its tenure on campus in the coming weeks. Belfield’s restaurant building will soon be controlled by Gather & Gather, who were successful in winning the contract worth €1.2 million.
Aramark has been the focus of a number of protests since beginning its activities on campus eight years ago. A number of students attempted to boycott the restaurant building in February 2018, forming an unofficial group called ‘Aramark Off UCD Campus’, with criticisms of the company’s ties to the controversial system of Direct Provision (DP) in Ireland.
Aramark currently cater for three DP centres in Athlone, Cork and Clare. Criticisms have been vocalised regarding the quality of the food provided in the centres. UCD students have criticised the company for profiting from the system, receiving €5.89 million from the state in 2018.
The current government have indicated their intention to end Direct Provision within the lifetime of this government, in favour of a “not for profit approach”.
A UCD spokesperson confirmed to The College Tribune that Gather & Gather were successful in securing the tender and will manage the catering for the popular restaurant building.
A spokesperson for Aramark confirmed to The College Tribune that the decision to exit operations at the end of their contract period was “a commercial one”.
“We are proud of the quality of services delivered to students and staff in UCD over the past 8 years,” the spokesperson continued, “and thank UCD for their approach to partnership during this time.”
There are rumoured to be changes to the restaurants following the change in caterers. Popular restaurant ‘Chopped’ could be on the chopping block, with sources suggesting its imminent departure from campus.
The estimated value of the contract is €1.2 million and Gather & Gather will run its operations for 59 months, or just under five years.
The company has indicated there will be an announcement next week regarding the commencement of their operations at UCD. It is understood that changes to the food options will be revealed in advance of Trimester 1.
Earlier this year, Aramark stated that they would not renew their contract with Trinity College Dublin at the end of 2020. The move followed years of student protest on campus. Speaking to Trinity News, Aramark stated that the protests were “not a factor in our decision and any suggestion to the contrary is false and misleading”.
Conor Capplis – Senior Reporter