Big changes to Food Services at UBC Okanagan

Healthy, high-quality food on the menu as UBCO staffs up for in-house operations

A whole new way of delivering food services is coming to UBC’s Okanagan campus starting July 1.

Food Services operated by a contractor since the campus opened in 2005 will be taken in-house, operated by Student Housing and Hospitality Services.

“This is great for our students, faculty and staff, and the wider community,” says Rob Einarson, associate vice-president of finance and operations. “UBC operates one of the largest and most complex food service programs in Canada on the Vancouver campus. UBC Okanagan is in a unique position to replicate the Vancouver model and use its strengths and resources to deliver a unique, world-class UBC Okanagan food service program.”

UBCO Food Services’ portfolio will consist of 11 campus locations-a mix of in-house brands representing a variety of culturally diverse foods, and franchises including Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Subway. While franchises will remain the same, all in-house food outlets will offer new and enhanced menu items, new or refreshed brands and improved customer service.

Since opening 14 years ago, UBC Okanagan’s enrolment has grown from 3,500 to 10,000 students. On any given day during the academic year, as many as 12,000 students, faculty, staff and visitors may be on campus. A new 500-seat dining hall is under construction and scheduled to open as part of the Nechako student residence project by fall 2021.

“Our campus population is now large enough to make a self-operated food service business model viable as a part of the UBC food service system,” says Einarson. “The aim of UBCO Food Services is to continuously improve the campus experience. At the same time, we will support UBC’s academic mission by nourishing thousands of people with a wide variety of high-quality foods every day in a socially and ecologically conscious manner in alignment with UBC’s food vision and values.”

The new culinary program is being pioneered by world-class executive chef Shelley Robinson and David Speight, executive chef and culinary director with Student Housing and Hospitality Services.

“My culinary team is excited and committed to creating healthy choices for all meals, as we recognize the contribution eating well makes to academic and professional success,” says Robinson. “In addition to UBCO serving 100 per cent Ocean Wise fish and seafood, our menus will have a hyper-focus on sustainability, ensuring an abundance of plant-based, locally sourced and certified Fairtrade products.”

Robinson notes that UBCO Food Services will encourage reduced meat consumption to lessen environmental impact, and will also introduce ‘green to go’ container exchange and ‘spork’ programs to reduce single-use packaging. Plastic cutlery and straws will no longer be available.

Hiring is underway for a variety of staff positions to prepare for full operation beginning in early September, says Gary Hartung, associate director of UBCO Food Services. A large number of former contracted personnel have been hired by UBC and will be members of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union.

“About 30 new UBC staff members will be working as of July 1, and our full staffing levels will be in place with the start of the upcoming academic term,” says Hartung. “We’re currently hiring to build a passionate, energetic and diverse team of cooks, kitchen attendants, sales attendants, shipper/receivers and general workers.”

UBCO Food Services pays above standard wages, Hartung notes. “We also offer generous benefits, a pension plan and great professional development opportunities.”

Information about current openings can be found online at:

About UBC’s Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

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