24 HOURS DC/UOIT: Dishing food on campus

Todd McKinnon, food services director of all food locations on campus at Durham College and UOIT. Photo credit: Victoria Marcelle

Our second-year Journalism – Mass Media students from Durham College have tackled a special project – one we are calling ’24 Hours DC/UOIT’.
On Feb. 5, 2019, the students visited particular areas of the Durham College and UOIT campuses, including north Oshawa, downtown Oshawa and Whitby.

They talked to people, snapped pictures and gathered stories from students, faculty and staff about their campus experiences. This is one in a series of 16 stories from that day.

When students grab a coffee before class or a pizza slice at lunch, it’s easy to forget about the people who spend their days making it possible.

Todd McKinnon, who works for Aramark as the company’s food services director at Durham College and UOIT, ensures all bellies on campus are full everyday. McKinnon says he enjoys working at a busy location and serving a trendy crowd.

“Between the four cashiers at Marketplace, 2,500 POS (point of sale) transactions are done a day. We sell 10,000 [slices] of Pizza Pizza a month,” says McKinnon.

Aramark makes 70 per cent of its daily profits during lunchtime. Peak business times are between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., he says.

McKinnon manages the day-to-day operations of every food location on campus. He says 13 managers report directly to him and he is responsible for 180 employees.

“My daily duties are to make sure that we are fully staffed, we have all the food we need to serve the students, that our locations look the way they’re supposed to look and coach my staff and managers,” says McKinnon.

Developing business strategy and meeting company standards around clean food guidelines are McKinnon’s responsibility, while Lisa Whitlock, assistant director, is in charge of implementation. Her approach to work is more hands-on, because she is physically present on the floor, says McKinnon.

“I’m trying to be out there more, because I want to see what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong and trying to make sure that we are providing the best customer service we can. Sometimes that is tough when I have spreadsheets to build,” says McKinnon with a laugh.

Who makes the final decision on what food reaches students’ plates? Menu options and pricing is determined by each branded partner, such as Pizza Pizza, Smoke’s Poutinerie and Extreme Pita, says McKinnon.


“Because we’re in a unique environment…we have a little bit of leeway [as far a dietary restrictions go] because our clientele is so niche. A regular Pizza Pizza out on the street is a traditional location, we’re non-traditional,” says McKinnon.

Certain products such as gluten-free pizza, available at traditional locations, is not possible because of the lack of facilities available on campus. Aramark tries to make up for that with its proprietary brands, such as Pan Fusion, says McKinnon.



Pizzas at Marketplace awaiting to be baked. Photo credit: Victoria Marcelle


“We have total control over that menu and try to do more vegetarian and healthier options. While Smoke’s and Pizza Pizza are Marketplace’s best-selling brands, and represent the biggest source of revenue, they’re not the healthiest,” says McKinnon. “That’s why we implemented the vertical salad bar.”



Each branded partner has reps who do audits to ensure their brand is being represented properly for everything from food presentation to employee clothing. During the bi-weekly audits, McKinnon can make suggestions based on customer feedback. That doesn’t guarantee changes will be made, for example, on menu items.

From customizable pita wraps to chocolate zucchini muffins, McKinnon strives to provide the best food experience for students.

Marketplace sells creative food products such as chocolate zucchini muffins. Photo credit: Victoria Marcelle