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  • Looking for a snack between the meals or for a coffee? No problem in the cafeterias or at the cafebars. Photo: University of Oldenburg / Daniel Schmidt

Meetingpoint: The Mensa

The Mensa canteen offers students a fresh and varied range of food and drinks – even during the coronavirus crisis: from tasty lunches and fresh snacks to coffee for during the breaks.

Due to the pandemic, the Mensa canteen had to remain closed for several months. It is currently back with a take-away offer and some seating in Uhlhornsweg. The cafeteria on the Wechloy campus has also reopened. You can find out what it is like in the canteen under normal conditions here.

The sound of laughter, of people greeting and calling out to each other fills the air. In the queue at the counter, people discuss the latest news. Various aromas that whet the appetite compete with each other. Someone quickly passes on a hot tip about which of today’s dishes is not to be missed. Chairs are shifted around, and the tables are filled with a hodgepodge of students, lecturers and employees who enjoy eating here. You may be wondering: where is this magical location? Well, it’s the Mensa!

At least, that is what the atmosphere is like when the world is not in the grip of a pandemic. After being completely closed for a few months, the Mensa reopened at the in May – albeit with some restrictions in place. The tables are now more spaced out and guests must comply with the hygiene measures.

Mountains of vegetables

During a regular semester, around 3,700 hot meals are served every day in the main Mensa on the Haarentor Campus alone. To keep things running smoothly, Mensa manager Marc Pargmann and his 50-strong team start their preparations at 7 o’clock in the morning: In the canteen kitchen, where the pots are the size of bathtubs, they tirelessly prepare mountains of vegetables, clean fish and tenderise meat. Pre-prepared food has no business here.

The food and drink on offer at the Mensas and cafés run by Studentenwerk Oldenburg is healthy, fresh and sustainably produced. As early as 1983, vegetarian meals were added to the menu in response to students’ requests. The current menu includes up to seven dishes, from the classic schnitzel to vegan couscous dishes. A list of ingredients is also provided so that people with allergies can easily see what’s in the dishes.

Guests can also choose from a wide variety of side dishes, including seasonal vegetables, rosemary potatoes, freshly deep-fried chips and crispy salads. And to top it all off, there is always a great selection of desserts, such as a light chocolate cream, vanilla blancmange or an Egyptian pastry with a hint of orange.

Create your favourite pizza

If you want to see the chefs in action, then the “Culinarium” is the place to be, where meat and fish dishes are prepared in front of the guests. And be sure to have your decision-making hat on if you head to the pizza counter; here, you can create your favourite pizza.

A third of the ingredients used in dishes at the Mensa are organic. In 2004, the Oldenburg Mensa was the first in Lower Saxony to be awarded the organic logo in accordance with the EU Eco Regulation. Beef and pork are reared in welfare-friendly conditions, and fish comes exclusively from sustainable fisheries or organic aquacultures.

It goes without saying that the Mensa also uses regional and seasonal products. And the coffee on campus is fair-trade, organic coffee. By purchasing bottles of Viva con Agua water, Mensa guests can support the foundation of the same name, which is dedicated to providing access to clean drinking water all over the world.

Freshly baked goods every day

And don’t worry, you won’t go hungry on the Wechloy Campus, either; the Mensa here also offers plenty of freshly cooked meals. For those who can’t make it to the Mensa for lunch, there’s always the large cafeteria on Uhlhornsweg (where you can grab a fresh pizza in the afternoon) as well as three café bars on the Haarentor Campus and the new canteen on the Wechloy Campus. So, there are plenty of options to satisfy growling stomachs!

And, did you know... Studentenwerk Oldenburg is the only association for student affairs in Lower Saxony with its own bakery.  Under the management of master baker Hans-Peter Kruse, it has been providing freshly baked goods every day for more than 35 years. And here, too, it’s all about high-quality ingredients; the proof of the pudding (or rather, the bread rolls, loaves and cakes!) is in the eating.

(Changed: 2021-12-02)