On a weekly basis, students face the common dilemma of choosing a dining facility between the north and south side of campus. Should they eat a meal worth $4.85 at the Academic Forum and Cub Café or should they travel to the opposite side of campus to enjoy an all-you-can-eat meal at the South Side Café in South Dining Hall?
This issue has raised concern with KU’s Housing, Residence Life and Dining Services’ office as well as the office of Administration and Finance. As a result, KU is currently planning and designing a new dining program.
The 10, 14 and 19 premium meal plans, which provide students with a certain number of meals to use weekly, and the 75 and 175 block meal plans—a plan that offers students the flexibility to use an unlimited number of meals per day—will be eliminated. Instead, the foundation of the new meal program would be based around a board plan.
Students would be able to use their meal swipe in the McFarland Student Union Building (MSU) or South Dining Hall an unlimited amount of times during the day. Therefore, students would no longer have to use meals in accordance with Meal Zone hours as with current premium meal plans.
“Students now seem to need a lot more flexibility just because of all the different demands on their schedules and that’s why we’re working toward changes like these,” stated Gerald Silberman, Vice President for Administration and Finance.
According to current Meal Zone hours from Monday through Friday, breakfast is served between 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; lunch is served between 10:31 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; dinner is available from 3:31 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and late night is available from 8:01 p.m. to Midnight. On Saturday and Sunday, students can enjoy brunch from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., dinner from 3:31 p.m. to 8 p.m. and late night between the hours of 8:01 p.m. to Midnight.
Furthermore, Dining Flex Dollars—credit used to purchase snacks, beverages, or act as supplemental cash credit for meals, would be optional for students to purchase with board meal plans.
“Students pay their price for a [board plan] but do not have to purchase flex dollars,” stated Kent Dahlquist, Director of Housing, Residence Life and Dining Services. “There would also be optional plans where students can purchase the board plan with so much flex or a second stage of so much flex.”
According to Silberman and Dahlquist, KU plans to create the Cub Café in the MSU as an all-you-can-eat facility, similar to the second floor of South Dining Hall.
“You would be able to use your meal swipe in the Student Union Building or South Dining Hall as often as you wanted during the day,” stated Dahlquist. “So if you wanted to eat five small meals, you would be able to do that instead of the traditional three meals a day.”
In addition, the Academic Forum on the north side of campus would become an all retail dining facility, in which students would pay with cash, Bear Bucks, Flex, or a debit card; the meal swipe would no longer have any equivalence. The coffee shop in the library would also be treated outside the board plan.
“We need a rounded program that would meet student’s and commuter’s needs,” stated Dahlquist. “We also want this to become a meal plan that everyone wants to be on and have volunteer purchasers.”
KU Housing, Residence Life, and Dining Services hope to implement the new dining program by the fall of 2015.
By Marianella Orlando