The Town of Gander and the minor hockey association are locked in a battle over sandwiches.

Stephanie Winsor, chair of the Gander Minor Hockey Association, says they're being barred from offering sandwiches to players in the stadium's hospitality room.

'I'm at a loss as to figure out why this has become such a burning issue.' - Stephanie Winsor

"We can bring in granola bars, bring in cookies, but we're not allowed to bring in a sandwich," said Winsor.

"I'm a bit disappointed, frankly a bit embarrassed to be sharing this story, but really, if you don't shine some light on things and express the lunacy of this policy … then I don't know how we'll ever move forward."

Contract dispute

Gander's hockey arena

Stephanie Winsor says the Gander Minor Hockey Association should be able to provide sandwiches for free to players at the town's arena. (David Newell/CBC)

Winsor said the association wants to provide healthy alternatives to both their own players and visiting teams.

However, the town is arguing the association's free sandwiches competed with business for the arena's canteen, run by a private contractor.

According to Winsor, the practice of offering a sandwich has become somewhat expected — and accepted — in arenas across the province, adding it was allowed at a recent tournament in Clarenville.

After looking into both their own contract with the town and the private operator's contract, Winsor said the association was unable to find anything that would prevent them from offering sandwiches.

fast food

Fast-food items, such as french fries and hamburgers, are available at the stadium's canteen for a cost. (Radio-Canada Archives)

"It wasn't so much in the contract, but there was a letter submitted sometime in the fall by the independent contractor to the council chamber that he requested that we no longer serve sandwiches," Winsor said.

Winsor said there will be 22 hockey teams arriving in Gander for a tournament on March 18, adding those players will be relying on the Gander association's hospitality.

​"I'm at a loss as to figure out why this has become such a burning issue," said Winsor.

"At the same time in my world, we do have an expression: pick your battles and this is not the hill you want to die on today … As embarrassing as it is, I'm disappointed in this situation and I will die on the sandwich hill."

No other groups having a problem

Meanwhile, Gander Mayor Claude Elliot said this change was discussed with all stadium users, including the minor hockey association, months ago.

Claude Elliott, mayor of Gander

Gander Mayor Claude Elliott says many arenas in the province are changing their food policies. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Elliott added there are similar policies in other arenas around the province.

"This is not uncommon, most stadiums are getting rid of it … no other group have brought in anything this year," Elliott told CBC's Central Morning Show.

"It is unfair to say to this group, 'Yes, you can bring it in,' when all the rest of the groups accepted it and didn't bring anything in."

Elliott added council's decision is final, and the free sandwiches are not permitted.

"We have a contract with this gentlemen and we're going to abide by that contract," said Elliott.

"But if they want to bring in healthy food that he don't provide then they're welcome to bring it in."

with files from Central Morning Show