Last March 27, DLSU major stakeholder and owner of SM Investments Corporation Henry Sy announced plans of converting the Agno collective of food stalls into a “commercialized food park”. The renovation of the 50-sqm lot will still take place in the usual Agno space across the Gokongwei Hall but will expand further to another 250-sqm as Sy expressed.
The al-fresco dining space will house at least 20 food concessionaires with new facilities. The start of the renovation will effectively begin in late April and is projected to be accomplished in July 2017.
Towards a hygienic place for food
Since the sudden outbreak of hygienic issues in food stalls in social media earlier in March, DLSU’s Health Services Office (HSO) and the Office of the President has been closely working together with internal and external sectors of the University that would look into the sanitation protocols of these establishments. HSO Director Dr. Lily Ann Cabuling has expressed her concern for the increasing number of pest problems found in different food stalls.
“Based on the diagnosis of these students, their stomach aches are not entirely linked to the hygienic issues spreading around. Other factors such as the lack of water or even stress may have contributed to it,” she shares. “But for safety protocols, we again advise our students to be cautious of what they eat within campus and especially those outside. Investigations are being conducted to ensure that the food establishments adhere to the highest standards of our sanitation and hygienic regulations.”
However, during the recent investigations, DLSU President Br. Raymundo Suplido FSC also announced that a major conglomerate will be helping the University in addressing the sanitation issues.
“It’s not like the University does not have the capacity to solve these issues, especially when our students’ health and safety are concerned, but one of our generous benefactors—a name that I will not disclose as of now—has expressed a great concern for the welfare of our students. He will be assisting the University by renovating the Agno food area with state-of-the-art facilities that will ensure that the food our students and even faculty and staff consume will be treated with the highest of safety standards,” Suplido expresses.
Henry Sy, a name that the DLSU community is familiar with, was revealed to be the benefactor behind the major renovation. “When I first heard of this food hygiene conundrum in social media, I thought of those students who may have overlooked their food. It was a lucky occurrence that there are certain students who caught those unwanted particles before consuming their food, and warn the rest of the DLSU community to be wary of what they eat,” Sy reveals.
The Agno food concessionaires that students have been fond of for years will undergo a major renovation starting in the last week of April. Aside from having a new look, the planned food park will also highlight modern sanitation facilities that will maximize the wider spaces intended for this renovation. Aside from the new food park, Sy is also considering plans of taking over the vending machines inside the campus. Bidding procedures are currently ongoing.
“Our aim for this project is to give the DLSU community a new dining experience, giving them more food selections but still maintain the highest degree of food sanitation,” Sy explains. “The concept behind the new and improved food park will house international cuisines all in one roof—a mixture of different yet healthy cuisines. We are projecting that the prices of these new stalls will be made affordable to the students of La Salle.”
On the possibility of having a new name for the food park, Sy mentions that the ‘Agno’ aspect in the official name will likely be retained. “We are not sure what to call it yet officially as we are still in the process of coming up with a new identity. But who knows? Maybe SM Food Court will do,” Sy says in jest.
Stalls in preparation
The food park will retain some of Lasallians’ favorites but with a much more improved hygienic system, such as Healthy Corner, Phily’s, Cantonese, and many more. Unfortunately, due to health review conflicts, Ate Rica’s will not be able to join the concessionaires.
Various food businesses contacted Cabuling and made contracts with Sy after a systematic review of possible stalls to include were conducted. The process of stall preparation was in line with the University’s duty to uphold sanitized workplace and healthy food.
The stalls’ review process papers were made available online and it included organic-specialized concessionaires such as GrubTub, which is similar to the American food joint Subway. Tokyo Tempura will also be part of the said food park, which features multi-numbered tempuras in a bowl.
Cabuling believes that through building a food park, it will raise the standards in the field of hygiene and health safety. “We always prioritize the welfare of the students, in and out of the campus. Of course, the recent incident regarding the food stalls with unsanitized workspaces was quite alarming, kaya naisipan naming ituloy ito,” shares Cabuling.
When asked how they reviewed the stalls, Cabuling answers, “We have a committee provided by Sir Henry Sy to ensure that these stalls really pass the workplace criteria. There will also be CCTV cameras installed in every part of the food park to guard the behavior of the people who prepare the food.”
Due to past incidents regarding improper food sanitation, the University ensures that the health reviews and regular food stall visits are going to stay.
More commercialized stalls are seeking the availability of slots in the proposed food park, and Sy carefully picks on which stalls to place together with his committee. This not only affects the University, but also acts a threat to the major food chains surrounding La Salle.
“With cheaper prices and a wide variety of food to choose from, I really don’t see the point why the students will still prefer the fast food joints to the food park. I have heard of the concessionaires, and they’re all so sarap kaya,” claims Ashley Dasugo (II, AEF-BSA).