Beating the cafeteria crowds


How much time do you spend waiting for lunch in an average school year? If you frequent the Trafalgar food court, called the Marketplace, the answer is probably “a lot.”

“Around the Thai food area, it’s always packed, it’s always crowded,” said Sheridan educational support student Lynda Onyemah. “You have to wait 20 minutes to get your food, which is a lot of time, especially if you need to get to classes.”

She thinks the campus needs more food outlets. “Maybe have more than one food court. This campus is quite big.”

With a full-time student body of 7,600 and a residence population of 800, it’s not surprising the line ups can get pretty dense. The Marketplace is a public food court that seats more than 300 people, with around 50 spots reserved for Sheridan students only.

“There are rushes at certain times of the day,” said Maria Nicolls, general manager of food services. “Between noon and 12:30, it’s packed.”

People line up in front of the Trafalgar Campus Thai Express for lunch.

People line up in front of the Trafalgar Campus Thai Express for lunch.

A number of customers are from White Oaks Secondary School, which is a 10-minute walk from Trafalgar Campus.

“Because you’re so close to our two campuses, they drift over to your cafeteria,” said White Oaks principal John Stieva. “Depending on the day and what the weather’s like outside, I would guess anywhere from 100 to 200 kids go over daily.”

“Ever since Ontario passed the healthy food regulations, we’re not allowed to serve fried foods. We can’t sell pop with sugar in it,” said Stieva. “That’s what attracts them to Sheridan, because all the food you serve is food that we can no longer serve.”

Nicholls was an operations manager for several schools in the Peel Region and she noticed a drop in food sales when the Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act was passed in 2008.

“The kids like brands and they don’t have those in the high school,” Nicolls added.

White Oaks student Aaron Csele estimated around 100 of his peers come to the Trafalgar cafeteria for lunch daily.

“It has better food than the one at White Oaks,” said Csele. “[The high school] used to have better things, but then the guidelines got more strict.”

Csele understands the rules and restrictions of the food court. “We’re not allowed in the comfy seats over there,” he said, gesturing to the Sheridan-only seating.

The entrance to the Trafalgar Campus cafeteria during lunch.

The inside entrance to the Trafalgar Campus cafeteria.

Like other Sheridan students, Onyemah didn’t realize the cafeteria is open to the public.

“I think it’s great,” Onyemah said. “If high school kids want to come here to get their food, why not?”

Sheridan security director Michael Burjaw reminds people that the Marketplace is an open access space, and congestion will occur.

“If it causes issues, you can take it up with Student Union, but right now it’s a public building,” said Burjaw. “Your oneCARD gets you into your classroom, it gets you into the Learning Commons. But you don’t need it to buy a hamburger.”

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