By Lara El Gibaly
Shortages for food have been a regular occurrence at The American University in Cairo since last Tuesday, as on-campus cafes and restaurants run out by the late afternoon.
AUC students could be seen lining up at the food outlet in front of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, waiting and clamoring for Nutella sandwiches.
While some joked about the situation as they watched a server scraped the last bit of Nutella out of its jar, others were less amused.
“This isn’t Tahrir, we can’t just walk off campus and get something to eat at McDonald’s,” said Magdy Amin, a sophomore waiting in line.
“Some of us have late classes,” said another student. “How is it possible that the only available thing is Nutella?”
Even during Ramadan, lines outside the campus’s food outlets extended far, with an average wait of 10 minutes. With the end of fasting, campus restaurants said they did not stock enough food for all.
Food bought on campus is served by outlets managed by Delicious Inc. The Egyptian-Saudi company that struck a profit-sharing agreement with AUC to become the exclusive food supplier on campus.
Delicious Inc. said it would bring a variety of eateries to the campus. However, nothing will likely develop until after November, since the caterer is waiting for the campus kitchens – still under construction – to be complete.
In the meantime, the cafes on campus have to rely on outside shipments to stock up.
“Our forecasting was way off the mark” said Ehab Mohammed, head of the bookstore branch of Cilantro. “We had 150 sandwiches and by 2 p.m. they had all been sold.”
Cilantro pre-orders sandwiches the previous night and they are delivered that morning from the nearest Cilantro kitchen, which is at its Abbas El-Akkad branch.
“Therefore when the food is gone there is nothing we can do,” Ehab said. “Tomorrow we are ordering double the amount, 300 sandwiches.”
He apologized, explaining the cafe had to be careful not to overestimate demand, since it is against Cilantro’s policy to sell yesterday’s product; leftovers are disposed of, he said, which count as losses.
The recent opening of a new branch of Cilantro in front of the library apparently did little to ease the pressure on the other food outlets.
“We are opening two more branches by the end of the month,” stated Ehab. “All in all there will be five branches opened by December 11, right now as we are the only fully functional branch. The pressure on us is immense.”
Jared’s Bagels lasted slightly longer, running out of bagels at around 3 p.m., while rice crispies and brownies satisfied students’ hunger till around 4 p.m.
“We preorder our bagels from the Road 9 branch in Maadi the previous night,” stated the cashier. “We just didn’t think AUC students would be this hungry,” he joked.
Cinnabon on the other hand has its own oven in which to bake cinnamon rolls. It still ran out by late afternoon. Hungry students then stalked the HUSS cafeteria to buy Doritos chips and Nutella sandwiches.
With few other options, students paid the 5 LE for a chocolate sandwich.
“I’m bringing a lunchbox tomorrow,” said Hadeel Hammad, a hungry sophomore stuck in the Nutella queue.