Faculty of Engineering Supply


Many students have approached us and complained about the current supply situation with food, drinks and snacks at the South Campus. The food on offer, especially outside of canteen opening hours (weekends and evenings) and during the exam period, does not currently meet the necessary demand.

We are aware of the situation and want to discuss the issue with the relevant departments at the university. We are currently working with the Studierendenwerk to find solutions to expand the range of snack vending machines. Updates on the progress of this project can be found on this website.

Update 24.04.2024

Below you will find the file for the “Report on the survey of the supply situation at TechFak, conducted by FSV Tech, 2024 for download as PDF (only in german): DOWNLOAD HERE (DE) -> Bericht zur Umfrage der TechFak Versorgung 03.24

Results from the discussion on the range of services at FAU’s south campus on 15 March 2024

 

Participants: Members of the student representation of the Faculty of Engineering (FSV Tech):  Nils Montag, Jannik Lieb, Lars Wickel and representatives of the Studierendenwerk Erlangen-Nürnberg, specifically the head of university catering & his colleague

This document serves as information on the topics discussed during the meeting.

A report by FSV Tech was presented to the representatives of the Studierendenwerk. This contains the results of a survey of all students and employees of the Faculty of Engineering regarding the current catering offer on the south campus of FAU. The survey was created and analyzed by FSV Tech. The report can be found on the FSV Tech website.

The most important findings from the survey are summarized below. It does not claim to be complete and only reflects the impressions of the student representatives. Enquiries can be sent by email to fsv-tech@fau.de.

Motivation and background to the pricing of catering facilities

As a public institution, the Studierendenwerk has the task of providing university students with an adequate and cheap lunch service in the Mensa. With just over 700,000 portions of food per year, the current capacity utilization of the Südmensa is around 80%. According to the Studierendenwerk, this utilization is not high enough to guarantee the economic viability of the Mensa. This has an impact on the (financial) possibilities of the canteen. The number of staff in the Mensa also depends on the level of capacity utilization. Accordingly, this has already decreased in recent years, as a few years ago there was significantly higher capacity utilization.

Price differences of equivalent meat-free dishes

According to the Studierendenwerk, the desire for standardized pricing for equivalent meat-free dishes such as currywurst cannot (always) be guaranteed by the current purchase prices. There is no subsidy or subsidization for meat dishes, but the required quantities of meat-free substitute products are comparatively more expensive or not available.  It is in the interests of the Studierendenwerk to increasingly and in future adjust the prices of equivalent meals in favor of the guests. Consideration is being given to offering a fixed basic meal, which can then be topped up with meat or meat-free options.

Prices for FAU employees

According to the law, catering for employees is not a primary objective for this type of Mensa. The provision of funds is therefore only dependent on the number of meals served to students. The discount on the normal price for employees is capped at a certain minimum price. The sometimes-large price fluctuations between employees and students are due to different prices set by the legislator. The economic and legal details of pricing cannot be presented here. Therefore, please refer to the Studierendenwerk or the relevant legislation.

 Price display & waymarking

The inconsistency of the price display, i.e. that some dishes are priced with or without a side dish, also has a business background. So-called “100% meals” consist of a main course with a side dish and are therefore sold at the price displayed. This contrasts with “66% meals”, where the side dish is excluded and can be purchased in addition.

The survey revealed that for some, the Mensa displays do not adequately show how much the meals with a side dish cost. This issue was raised and will be reviewed by the Studierendenwerk. The displays are provided centrally by a third-party company for all canteens in the catchment area, which is why changes are not so easy to implement for all facilities at the same time. However, the issue is being addressed. The same applies to the display of allergens and nutritional information. These can already be viewed on the Mensa website.

Problems currently arise when queuing at the respective queues mainly because it is not immediately recognizable which queue leads to which meal. This is to be optimized by installing signs and signposts.

Bringing your own food

Many survey participants would like to be able to eat food they have prepared themselves on university premises. As the general options are very limited, there were requests to lift the general ban on bringing food into the Studierendenwerk’s facilities.

According to the Studierendenwerk, it is responsible for hygiene on its premises. There is a risk that food brought in does not meet the statutory hygiene standards. This means that the Studierendenwerk can be held liable in the event of an emergency. For this reason, the provision of the house rules remains active, which can be referred to should legal problems arise.

The lack of seats is not an acute problem due to the declining capacity utilization of the Mensa. As the number of employees is decreasing, there is currently no capacity to carry out patrols and check whether the regulations are being adhered to. The Studierendenwerk therefore asks guests to adhere to this rule. Furthermore, it is pointed out that the cutlery provided is only available for cafeteria food. Any unauthorized use or theft is prohibited.

Expansion of capacities outside regular meal times

Apart from the library, the South Campus has few to no options for studying. The suggestion was made to open the Studierendenwerk locations for this purpose.

As the Studierendenwerk has rented the rooms from the university, it is responsible for this. The staff costs for opening outside of the current meal times cannot be afforded. The reason for this is that direct access to the kitchen is possible from the dining hall of the Mensa. The hygiene requirements do not allow this without supervision. The same applies to the cafeteria. The adjoining room (Medienraum) on the ground floor next to the cafeteria is at least not impossible to provide. However, the extent to which this would increase cleaning costs must be examined. The Studierendenwerk will examine this possibility. However, outside of the opening hours of the catering facilities, this is hardly feasible.

Quality and menu

The quality of the food was a major issue for respondents to the survey. Preparing such a large quantity of food with consistently good quality is a huge challenge. Points that dishes with pasta and vegetables are often too soft, i.e. overcooked, were raised. This was noted and, according to the Studierendenwerk, will be reviewed and adjusted in consultation with the chefs. The same applies to the lamented “bland” seasoning of many dishes. More intensive seasoning is therefore being sought. The suggestion of seasoning dishes yourself is difficult to fulfil, as past experience has shown that guests often simply pack up the spice containers instead of leaving them out for everyone to use.

The Studierendenwerk is aware of the consistency of the sauces, which have often been described as slimy and unappetizing. As large quantities can only be managed with ready-made sauces given the current possibilities of the Mensa, their quality suffers as a result. Further possibilities to improve this are now being examined by those responsible. However, it has already been indicated during the discussion that it will be difficult to bring about an improvement in this area.

In general, the Studierendenwerk intends to update and improve the current meal plans. However, due to staff shortages, this goal can only be achieved in the long term.

Portion size

Small portions are not feasible due to the lower margin, the purchase of new crockery and the estimation of the quantity gradation. The automatic recording of food via cameras, which will soon be activated in some facilities, is also not designed for this gradation. It was pointed out that the food should be left or packed, as there is no economic alternative on the part of the Studierendenwerk.

Opening hours

The majority of survey participants were in favor of extending the opening hours of the catering facilities. It would be a great incentive to spend more time on campus and thus wake up university life a little.

According to the Studierendenwerk, the opening hours are also dependent on demand and the economy of the facilities. With the current number of employees, an expansion is only possible to a limited extent, which is why nothing is likely to change in the south Mensa. The cafeteria is working out whether an extension is worthwhile. At Café Südblick, the prospect has been raised that the opening hours could be extended and that an offer could even be presented on Saturdays. Compared to previous semesters, the café remained open during the lecture-free period of WS23/24, which is already an improvement.

Other services

Outside of the opening hours of the catering facilities in question, there are no external catering options available in the near or medium distance. Only the vending machines provided by the Studierendenwerk are available. In the survey, these were criticized for being very sugary and not very nutritious. The number of vending machines has also decreased in recent years. According to the Studierendenwerk, this is due to energy-saving measures taken by FAU in the wake of the energy crisis. The representatives have taken the criticism on board and will, according to their own information, ensure that the range of snacks and drinks on offer is expanded in the near future. Long-life snacks such as dried fruit or protein bars can simply be added to the range. Sandwiches and rolls will also be created on a trial basis. As the vending machines are provided externally by CocaCola™, any changes are limited by contract. An alternative or supplement is being sought. As some drinks such as ClubMate™ are already sold in the cafeteria, it may be comparatively easy to expand the range. The availability of beer from vending machines is also being discussed.

In the longer term, there are also plans to purchase a vending machine that can prepare or provide hot meals. This is linked to the availability of FAU IT interfaces, as this will ensure that only FAU employees can benefit from this offer. However, the prerequisites for this are currently difficult and slow to implement on the part of IT.

As it is not possible to provide stationary catering for external providers on and around the south campus, there was talk of ordering one or more food trucks to drive around the campus at certain times. This proposal is not welcomed by the Studierendenwerk. The argument here is based on the idea that the current capacity utilization of the Mensa would be further reduced by a counter-offer. This would mean that jobs in the catering facilities would be further jeopardized, as the current number is designed for high capacity utilization.

 

Update 05.03.2024

The survey was completed at the beginning of March 2024 and an appointment was made with representatives of the Studierendenwerk. We will take the results of the survey to the meeting and discuss its feasibility. If you have any suggestions or requests that we can/should include, please send us an email to fsv-tech@fau.de by 14.03.2024.

Update 31.01.2024

After the notice board was described a lot, we have started a larger “official” survey. The QR code was distributed throughout the South Campus and via an e-mail to all members by the TF-Dekanat. Students and university staff can vote again here and explain in more detail what currently bothers them and how the situation can be improved.

Update 14.11.2023

There are now notes next to the water dispensers where you can write down your wishes for an extension of the snack vending machines.