September 19, 2019
The bustling conversations and clinking that are associated with dining at Ashesi are the same as they’ve always been. But the dining spaces and experiences for students today are vastly greater they used to be in 2011, when Ashesi moved to its permanent campus in Berekuso.
The university’s recently completed recreation and dining center, the Hive, is to thank for that. A permanent home to Ashesi’s kitchens, with an open courtyard surrounded by multiple “huts”, the Hive provides seating capacity for over 500 people at any one time. And for Ashesi’s Director of Logistics and Facilities Management, Casper Annie, it’s a remarkable addition.
“When we first moved to Berekuso, a small makeshift canteen was the only major source of meals available to students in this area,” Casper recounts. “Berekuso was a small locality, and there were almost no viable food vendors outside of the university campus. This meant that we had to collaborate across various stakeholders on campus – potential caterers, students, faculty and staff, and others – to ensure we provided the best experiences as possible. The lessons from those early months on our new campus have guided our philosophy around canteen operations meals and dining since.”
The lessons Casper refers to included making the decision early on to have all prospective caterers be vetted through a process that drew from as many campus stakeholders as possible. When our first caterers were being considered, evaluation panels included a select group of faculty, staff, and students. Bidding vendors were also required to serve on campus for a period, giving the broader university community opportunities to provide feedback for evaluation.
Other lessons included setting significantly lower-than-market rent rates for vendors, enabling the university to negotiate price ceilings for meals. For Casper, this allowed the Logistics and Facilities team to ensure that the university was selecting “vendors that matched campus community expectations and varying income levels, as much as possible.”
In a few weeks, additional vendor space will be completed on campus for food businesses run by students and alumni – from milkshakes to kebabs. The space will allow for four student and alumni vendors to operate at any one time and should see even more dining options being created on campus. For students, especially, it sounds like quite a boon. And for those like Marie Aimee ’22, who confesses that she has now found love for Ghana’s fufu and palm-nut soup, there may now be even better chances to introduce Ashesi to food from her home, Rwanda.
Share this story