University of Florida students to occupy Reitz union until food service demands are met

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - University of Florida students with Food Justice UF and the members of the Agricultural Justice Project have been calling on UF to end their contract with Aramark, the university’s food service provider.

With UF selecting a new food service provider in 2022, students protested in the Reitz Union and walked to the business services administration office. UF Food Justice lead student organizer, Ava Kaplan, said they came to deliver a message.

“We don’t want the University of Florida to contract with a corporation that is invested in the prison industrial complex like Aramark is,” Kaplan said.

Related story: UF students call for name change of building named after segregationistStudents say Aramark operates in over 600 prisons and exploits prisoners.

In a statement, Aramark claims, “We are actually part of the solution with a strong commitment to rehabilitating incarcerated individuals so they can transition back to their communities. we help rehabilitate them through vocational training so they can get jobs upon release.”

“As students, we really want to have our institutions be reflective of our values and i don’t want to participate in exploitation when I want to just get a coffee on campus,” Kaplan said.

Students say Aramark operates in over 600 prisons and exploits prisoners.

Related story: UF students create mural to protest bill that would limit student aid programs to certain majors

This protest will also be followed by two more days of events with guest speakers like professors and county commissioners

“Take a stand, Living wages we demand,” students chanted.

UF Food Justice member, Dmitry Podobreev said they have six demands for UF’s new food service contract, one is to start paying all employees more money.

“We want them to provide a $15 minimum wage for all employees, part-time, full time right now immediately not in 2026,” Podopreev said.

The students say their coalition will be staying at the Reitz Union until demands are met, even if it means spending the night.

For more information on the coming events, visit their Facebook.

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