Anti-Aramark Group Hosts Teach-in

Fight for Just Food says Aramark is Part of the “Prison-Industrial Complex.”

By Katherine Vega

Fight For Just Food (FFJF), a new student organization calling for an end to the University’s contract with Aramark, held its second teach-in on Wednesday in Cox Lounge. According to FFJF, Aramark’s connections with prisons are problematic and a reason for the University not to renew its contract.

The teach-in began with a short introduction by fourth-year Julia Epplin-Zapf, who described FFJF’s position and the connection between the University, Aramark, and prisons. Epplin-Zapf noted that eight of the top 10 schools on U.S. News and World Report have self-operating dining services, which means that they do not outsource food services to Aramark or similar companies. The FFJF supports self-operation of dining and facilities at the University of Chicago.

Tiesha Cassel, a first-year M.A. student at the Divinity School, spoke to the group next. Her discussion branched out from the Aramark debate, questioning the value of prisons in general and promoting the abolition of prisons. Cassel is not affiliated with FFJF, but was invited to speak at the teach-in after FFJF members heard her speak at another event.

The teach-in, which was attended by approximately 30 students from a number of different schools, organizations, and divisions, came just one day after FFJF members presented their case to Inter-House Council (IHC). Third-year Anthony Downer, president of IHC, wrote in a message to The Maroon that FFJF presented for 20 minutes in front the General Assembly, which consists of over 40 representatives and eight IHC board members.

According to third-year FFJF member Natalie Naculich, FFJF was contacted by an attendee of its first teach-in and invited to come speak to IHC. FFJF members are hopeful that, through more teach-ins and presentations, support for their cause will grow.

“If it’s important to foster discussion, it’s important to host events like this that create that opportunity,” Epplin-Zapf said.