The Bermuda College Student Government Council is urging students toboycott Buzz café for the rest of the week in a protest over high prices. Pictured centre, Shanley Todd and Antonio Belvedere.*Photo by Raymond Hainey
The Bermuda College Student Government Council is urging students to
boycott Buzz café for the rest of the week in a protest over high prices. Pictured centre, Shanley Todd and Antonio Belvedere.
*Photo by Raymond Hainey

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19 UPDATE: Students boycotting a college café over high prices got a boost yesterday — a special delivery of free food from a restaurant group and a catering firm.

Bermuda College students were stunned when staff from businessman Walter Simmons’ restaurants and Sara Masters’ Flying Chef catering firm turned up with vans loaded with food.

Stephen Lightbourne, vice-president of the Student Government Council (SGC), said: “We couldn’t believe it. There was enough food for maybe 150 people.

“Mr Simmons just said he’s backing what we’re doing and supporting Bermuda College students for standing up and fighting for change.

“We definitely appreciated the help and the meals were very much enjoyed — everybody who wanted lunch got it and there was enough left over for dinner as well.”

Mr Simmons said: “I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, I was just helping the students out. I am former student there myself and several members of my family are current students.”

He added: “I wasn’t in any way against Buzz — I know how tough it is in this business especially with the price of food.”

A range of food was on offer from Mr Simmons’ Bouchee in Hamilton and Rotisserie Grill in Smith’s and Ms Masters’ Flying Chef, including macaroni cheese, fish, rice, sandwiches and salad.

Ms Masters said she was happy to back Mr Simmons’ gesture of support. “He asked if I could donate food and that’s what I did — it was all his idea.

“He asked me as a friend and I was happy to help. I think he thought it was a worthy cause and he wanted to show some support for the students.

“Flying Chef does school meals for six schools and I can understand, the way the economy is — something’s got to give.”

The Bermuda Sun revealed on Friday that students were to boycott the private sector Buzz café at the college’s Paget campus on Monday over what they said were prices that were too high for most student budgets.

The Monday demo — where student representatives gave away pizza in return for voluntary donations — was such a success they decided to extend the protest for the whole week.

SGC president Antonio Belvedere, 25, who is studying for a diploma in culinary arts, said on Monday: “I think Buzz has only had four sales today and they’re talking about shutting early. The students have really backed the campaign.”

Shanley Todd, 19, from Hamilton Parish and studying for an associate degree in business, added: “The prices are too high. I couldn’t afford to eat lunch here every day. I hope the company accept what we’re saying and lower the prices.”

Mr Belvedere added: “We’ve had meetings with the company about lowering prices since last year — last semester they said ‘why should we lower prices if people are buying from us?’.

“It’s not the fault of the staff here. They’re really nice, but we do want to see lower prices and only the owners can make that decision.”

Buzz, which operates several restaurants and cafes in Hamilton and around Bermuda, are halfway through a two-year contract to provide catering at the college.

SGC vice-president Stephen Lightbourne said last week that a panini and a soda at Buzz could cost between $12 and $15, which ate into the budgets of cash-strapped students quickly.

He added that many students did not have jobs, and that some, due to long hours, needed breakfast, lunch and dinner on site.

Managers from the Buzz chain, which runs cafes across the island, are due to meet college representatives tomorrow in a bid to reach a solution to the stalemate.