At the end of the 2016-17 academic year, changes to the meal plan structures were announced. Early responses and feedback from students this semester have been mixed, and some students are confused as to how the changes affect their campus dining habits.
AU business manager Whitney Jiminez, who oversees food services, said that the biggest change to meal plans is in the introduction of the Raven Unlimited Plan, which “allows unlimited access to the Marketplace every day during open hours, and one meal exchange per day at one of the other venues on campus.”
The new meal plans operate on a week-to-week basis, depending on the level of meal plan that a student has purchased. The “meals per week” concept allows students to use “a certain number of meals per week” dependent on the plan they have selected.
Student Government Association President Hamilton Smith, senior marketing major, explained that most of the student feedback in regards to the changes in meal plans have been expressing confusion over the meal exchange program.
“There were some changes made along the way that were not communicated to the student body, and that is a point of frustration because they don’t feel like they were involved in the process,” he said.
Kellie Short, who has been the director of dining services at AU since spring of 2014, offered clarity to student frustration about changes to meal exchanges.
“A meal exchange combo is a series of predetermined meals put together for your convenience,” Short said. “All meal plans include one meal exchange combo per day to use in the dining retail locations outside of the Marketplace. Students will be given options at the retail locations for how to use combo meals.”
Miranda Ridener, a junior history and dance complementary major, said that she dislikes the current meal exchange setup.
“I do not like the meal exchange idea being limited to one a day and to combos,” Ridener said. “I think the meal exchange shouldn’t be a combo, but the $6 exchange like in previous years.”
Lindsey Fogle, a sophomore psychology major, is displeased with the reduced options that the meal exchange system brings.
“The thing that I dislike the most is not being able to eat at Create and The Haven in the same day without having to use your Raven Dollars,” she said.
Nick Bowling, a junior business marketing major, feels that the meal exchanges created restrictions.
“If a student does not want to eat in the MP, they should have the option not to and not be forced to eat meals there,” Bowling said.
AU Food Services and AU Business and Auxiliary Services meet biweekly to review feedback. Jiminez said that “constructive comments are greatly appreciated and considered.”
The SGA president and vice president have regular meetings with the executive cabinet to be a channel of communication between students and administration about issues concerning the student body.
The relationship between SGA and AUFS has been established through SGA Senate committees that meet regularly with AUFS. Last year, when students were dissatisfied with Yo-Bowl, SGA helped move facilitate the change to 2mato.
“The relationship is there,” said Victor Mweu, SGA vice president and junior It is on us to make it happen,” said Victor Mweu, SGA vice president and junior global studies and international relations major.
Aside from student confusion over the meal plan changes, students have shared their negative reactions to the removal of RavenExpress from Hartung Hall. “Create and Mocha Joes are out of the way a lot of the time. It was nice to have a place to grab a quick snack from [RavenExpress],” Ridener said.
RavenExpress was created about six years ago to help alleviate lines in the MP when chapel times changed from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“Acknowledging that there remains a need for a to-go option, food services added the to-go containers in the Marketplace to allow students to grab food and take it on-the-go,” Jiminez said. “The express line in Create was also added to address the need for a quick service meal option.”
Changes were also made to the existing dining options on campus. Create now offers online ordering, allowing anyone to order their food ahead of time online and pick it up in person at Create.
In the Marketplace, two new made-to-order stations have been added: Sizzle, for pasta; and Global Kitchen, for Mongolian style options. Raven Eats, a yogurt and waffle bar with fresh fruit, and #SMASH, a deli bar concept, are also new to the MP this semester.
The hours in the MP have been expanded to include the times between breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“There are a lot of students who do appreciate the new changes in the MP, which is, it’s open throughout the day,” said Mweu. “That’s a good base place for people to meet.”
One of the most popular changes to AUFS this year is the ability for students to use Raven Dollars at Mocha Joe’s. Additionally, Mocha Joe’s now sells the smoothies that were previously sold in Create.
Students looking to provide feedback to AUFS can communicate through several channels: SGA, using a detailed email, stopping by the SGA office to talk face-to-face with an SGA Cabinet member, stopping by the AUFS office, completing the feedback form on the Dine on Campus website or texting AUFS at 765-374-6050.