Refectory under fire for food ‘monopoly’
Students are concerned they are losing money through the Refectory’s meal card system, Leeds Student has found.
Students living on campus receive £9.70 to spend each week day and £5.80 at the weekends. Credit does not accumulate on the cards, meaning that if students fail to spend the full amount of money available, they lose it.
Lib Baston-Pitt, a catered Charles Morris student, suggested “money should roll over for a least a week because otherwise they are just taking [our] money.” Rae Roberts, also living in Charles Morris, said, “I have sport all Wednesday meaning I can’t spend any of my money and I just lose it.”
Due to restrictions placed on the card, catered residents can only purchase food from 8-11.30am and 2-7pm on weekdays. At weekends, students must provide their own evening meals, with the Refectory stopping catering for students living on campus at 2pm.
Further criticism has been raised with the limited meal choices available. Another student living on campus, Sarah Dawson, said she “always find that there isn’t a lot of choice” as well as the food being “really overpriced”. Olivia Ellis, a former Lyddon Hall resident, complained that the food offered was “mainly carbohydrates” and she found it difficult to eat healthily.
Some blame the prices on the “monopoly” that the restricted meal card system has over other retailers. David Grant, who used to live in Charles Morris, complained that a can of Appletizer “costs 80p in the Hidden Cafe, but £1.15 in the Refectory. Why can they charge so much more?”
Functions taking place in the canteen also often disrupt the catered students’ access to hot food, with weekend events meaning the Refectory has to be closed. Liz Ranking, a Charles Morris resident, described the arrangements at the weekends as “awkward” as students have to work around the timings of events. A catered student last year, Isabella O’ Dowd, claimed that students were given “a packed supper which was more like lunch; only sandwiches were provided and I can’t eat bread”.
A spokesman for the Refectory told Leeds Student “the Refectory is a retail environment which is used by other customers and students from private accommodation and a number of different halls – catered and not catered; the Meal Plan card helps identify those people who can claim their catered meals.”
Words: Beatrix Passmore & Max Bruges