The Union of Students Ireland (USI) held a protest today outside Avoca on Suffolk Street due to its ties with Aramark. The USI is calling on Avoca to end its ties with Aramark, the company that provides food to direct provision centres in Cork, Limerick and Meath. Aramark bought Avoca in 2015 from the Pratt family for €59.9 million.
In a statement, the USI said that the protest will be a “highly impactful two days before Christmas. It’s Avoca’s busiest shopping period, and we intend to highlight Avocas ties to direct provision.” “The system of Direct Provision will be one of the biggest shame’s on the Irish state since the Magdelene Laundries. We want to educate people on Direct Provision, and we will be embarking on a further campaign to end the system of DP in early 2018.”
The statement also said that the food Aramark provides has a “ Serious lack of nutritional value, chips almost every second day, a menu change every fortnight, little to no access to fresh fruit, no access to self-cater or ethnic foods.”
A number of student groups across Irish universities have started campaigns to boycott Aramark. In Trinity, Aramark is the College-appointed food caterer for Westland Eats in the Hamilton building. In 2015, Aramark installed food outlets Costa, Freshii and Gastro, as well as a new seating area,in the space previously occupied by the Westland Cafe.
Following the start of a Trinity campaign called “Aramark off our campus”, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has been mandated to lobby College not to renew their contract with Aramark when it ends in 2021. The campaign hopes to secure a company without connections to direct provision centres to work in Trinity instead.