Ten University of Chicago students and anti-prison activists are staging a 24-hour hunger strike to protest against the school's new campus dining provider.
The students say they are going without food for 24 hours in response to the university's new campus dining contract with the food service provider Bon Appetit Management Company, a subsidiary of the Compass Group.
Fight for Just Food, a on-campus organization leading the hunger strike, says Compass Group is a key prison food service provider worldwide. The hunger strikers are urging the university against "do[ing] business with corporations that profit from prisons," the group said in a statement.
"Compass Group is one of the corporations that has driven mass incarceration," said hunger striker and Fight for Just Food's Natalie Naculich. "It is unethical for UChicago to give money to corporations that profit from paramount social injustices."
Hunger strikers plan to hold a 4:30 p.m. news conference today outside U of C's main dining hall. From there, they plan to march with their allies to the university's administrative building, where they will hold a picnic and break their 24-hour hunger strike.
The students would like to see U of C move to a self-operated catering system.
"Eight out of the ten top U.S. universities already self-operate their dining, and self-operation is also better for dining hall workers," explained Fight for Just Food member Tunisia Tai.
A message seeking comment in response to Fight for Just Food's hunger strike was left with the U of C.
UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): Bon Appetit Management Company released the following statement to Progress Illinois:
Bon Appetit is very much looking forward to serving the University of Chicago community and to using our purchasing power to support these shared values for local food, sustainable seafood, more humanely raised meat, and farmworkers' rights. Bon Appetit is proud of the many groundbreaking "firsts" that we have achieved in the food service industry: first to commit to local food (launching our Farm to Fork program in 1999), first to switch to sustainable seafood (since 2002), first to address antibiotics in animal agriculture (since 2003), first to switch to cage-free shell eggs (2005), first to connect food to climate change (2007), first to sign the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Campaign for tomato pickers (2009), first to switch to Certified Humane ground beef (since 2012), and first to switch to pork raised without antibiotics or gestation crates (early 2016).
Bon Appetit has never provided service for any prison facilities since we were founded in 1987. We operate in only three business segments -- private colleges, corporate dining, and museums and other cultural centers.