Animal rights group protests NYU dining provider

A demonstration organized by student animal rights advocates called on NYU’s dining provider to adhere to ethical standards when sourcing products.


NYU students are protesting Chartwells because of its alleged mistreatment of animals. (Bruna Horvath for WSN)

Bruna Horvath, Contributing Writer

The Animal Welfare Collective — a student organization at NYU which advocates for the humane treatment of animals — protested against Chartwells, the university’s food service provider, in front of Weinstein Residence Hall on Friday, Sept. 30. Five of the group’s members claimed that the organization sources products from farms that raise animals in inhumane conditions.

The AWC alleges that Chartwells, which provides services to 300 college campuses across the country, disregards animal welfare in its product sourcing. The students urged Compass Group, the parent company of Chartwells, to source meat products that are raised in ethical conditions. 

“We want you to be aware of where your meat comes from and we want you to be aware of what you’re eating,” Steinhardt sophomore and AWC co-chair Devyn Costello-Henderson said. “If we have that knowledge, then all of these corrupt systems of these meat factories are going to be questioned.”

As of 2021, Chartwells only serves cage-free certified eggs. The company has said it is committed to sourcing slow-growing chickens, which exhibit fewer health problems than the fast-growing poultry that is currently industry standard, by 2024. A Chartwells spokesperson said that the company has increased the proportion of plant-based food that it serves by 20% since partnering with NYU, and added that it is working toward improving its pork supplying methods.

“While the majority of pork we serve comes from higher welfare group housed operations, farmers and producers are facing supply chain and COVID impacts,” the spokesperson wrote to WSN. “As soon as the supply is readily available, which we expect in November at NYU, we will be able to reach our commitment. In addition, our goal is to provide meals that appeal to the varied preferences of all students and the eggs we serve are Certified Humane, which exceeds industry-wide requirements for egg-laying hens.”

Some animal rights organizations claim that the cage-free label is misleading, as cage-free hens often lack access to the outdoors and live in high-density environments with little space to move freely. Adalea Khoo, a CAS sophomore and AWC co-chair, said she hopes that the protest will send a message to Compass Group about the student body’s commitment to animal welfare.

“We want to make it clear that we do not approve of where Compass Group sources its chicken and pork,” Khoo said. “The farms they purchase from keep chickens in filthy, cramped conditions where they can’t exhibit natural behaviors. Their promises are empty and we want them to know that students care about animal welfare and won’t stand for blatant abuse.”

The Humane League, a national animal rights organization, has also criticized Chartwells’ sourcing practices, accusing Compass Group of failing to enforce the Better Chicken Commitment, which outlines a set of standards for raising chickens for consumption. The organization has demanded that Compass Group source poultry that is raised in safer conditions and stop supporting inhumane practices for raising pigs.  

“I hope that the people who do take a minute to look at what we’re doing actually take into consideration the impact that they can have on this issue,” Costello-Henderson said. “We can make a difference in our own dining halls and in our university.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].