A tiger can change its stripes: Tigers Against Aramark rebrands to Tigers For Ethical Dining

Tigers for Ethical Dining advocate for positive change in the dining experience

Illustration of the Tigers for Ethical Dining logo

Tony Rodriguez

Illustration of the Tigers for Ethical Dining logo

Student organization Tigers Against Aramark (TAA) rebranded to Tigers For Ethical Dining (TFED) in July 2022 as they communicated with Trinity administration during the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. In summer 2020, Tigers Against Aramark (TAA) was created by a group of students who were dissatisfied with the actions and connections of Trinity University’s food provider, Aramark.

Aramark is well-known as a food provider for university students, but they also serve food in approximately 500 US prisons. In some cases, incarcerated individuals also package food for the company. TAA argued that, through this business practice, Aramark is supporting the prison system which disproportionately affects Black people, Indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC).

Since 2020, TAA has been very vocal about its desire to have Trinity University cut its contract with Aramark. With funding from Trinity, TAA conducted a feasibility study last year, but it was determined that the in-house dining option TAA was hoping to implement would be too costly for Trinity to pursue. The feasibility study involved interviews with students, administration and Aramark employees as well as how alternative dining options would influence Trinity’s presence as an elite institution. According to Brandon Niday, senior political science and economics major and TFED member, the results of the study were disappointing.

“We are disheartened at that…But we can upgrade our dining hall from what it is now,” Niday said.

Since the results of that study, TAA has rebranded to TFED and broadened its goals. Ani Siva, a sophomore neuroscience major and TFED member, explained the purpose of TFED’s rebranding.
“TAA was a stand against something. TFED is a stand for something,” Siva said.

TFED believes that in order for the dining experience to represent what the students need, there must be a way for students to directly communicate their concerns with their dining provider.
Demitrius Brown, dean of students, said he hopes students will “advocate for themselves when in those spaces when their food’s not right.”

Currently, Niday and Siva are on the Request for Proposal (RFP) committee, which is tasked with creating a new dining application for any Trinity dining provider. Aramark’s five-year contract with Trinity, which started in 2017, ends in 2023, and Aramark could remain as Trinity’s food service provider or a new vendor could be selected for the next academic year.

Brown is also on the board and said he is glad to have TFED advocating.

“I appreciate them finding something oriented to positive change,” Brown said.

TFED is realizing its goals for ethical dining through the RFP process by ensuring that any dining provider who works with Trinity “needs to consider the students too,” Siva said.

Even though a new in-house dining institution was the primary goal for TAA, TFED is communicating its concerns with Aramark. According to Niday, Aramark has been very receptive to TFED’s communications.

“They’re working actively to improve the dining experience right now, even as we go through the RFP process,” Niday said.

In an Aug. 23 post from @tigers.for.ethical.dining on Instagram, TFED illustrated its guiding principles, which include a permanent student dining oversight committee so students can have some control over the university’s choice of food sources.

Within the next month, TFED is hoping to gain more members. If students want to get involved in making structural changes to the way dining is operated at Trinity, they can follow @tigers.for.ethical.dining on Instagram to learn more about their cause and potential ways to participate within the next month.

TFED will be able to live on through the structural changes being implemented in the RFP process and by directly communicating facilitated student opinions to Aramark and the dining administration. “My goal is just a dining program that our students enjoy,” Brown said.