Campaign to Boycott Aramark on Campus to Start in Semester 2

A group of UCD students are launching a campaign to boycott Aramark food on campus next semester. This is in protest of the conditions in direct provision centres and Aramark’s role in this.Aramark have arrangements with UCD to provide food in Chopped, Subway, the main restaurant, and the café in the Sutherland building. They also have a deal with the government to provide food in several direct provision centres. These centres feature extremely poor living conditions with little food and no options for those with specific dietary requirements or religious beliefs that prevent them from eating certain foods.According to the Irish Times, the government paid Aramark €5.2 million in 2016 to provide food in direct provision centres. It is possible that Aramark may be profiting from the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers. This is why students wish to protest their presence on the UCD campus. These students are also against direct provision. The University Observer spoke to Cian O’Farrell and Matthew Derwin of the group “Aramark Off UCD Campus.”People in the direct provision centre in Athlone went on hunger strike in 2014 to protest its living conditions. Aramark provide the food for this centre. Protestors complained that they did not receive enough food to feed their children and were forced to purchase basic necessities with their allowance of €19.10 per week. Another hunger strike was reported in the direct provision centre at Kinsale road in Cork in the same year. Aramark also provide the food for this centre. Another hunger strike was also reported to have taken place in a direct provision centre in Knockalisheen in Limerick in 2015. Aramark also provides the food there.Cian O’Farrell stated that “If you’re in Direct Provision, you get to eat three times a day at certain times so if the portion sizes are small, you’re hungry basically; so you’ve no food, no money to buy other food.”The UCD group got in touch with the Trinity group which is boycotting Aramark. "In Trinity they passed a motion last week in their council that the SU has a mandate to get rid of Aramark." O'Farrell highlighted possible difficulties ahead: "In Trinity they have an SU mandate to end direct provision" which made it easier for their SU to take a stance on Aramark. UCD SU does not have a stance on direct provision. "What we don't know yet is whether we're going to have to campaign for a referendum to end direct provision [before putting a mandate against Aramark forward]."The plan was originally to start the boycott next week but the UCD group have decided to put it off until next semester in order to gain more momentum.