As part of a new OneCard system, the college is planning to implement a new flexible meal service that would allow students to use meal points at certain businesses in the Ville.
The college is currently in the process of selecting a merchant to work with to create a different ID program. The meal programs cannot be designed before the ID system is put in place. Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration, explains that the new ID technology is key to changing the meal plan.
“What enables us to be more creative is having better software … So if the ID card is smarter we can be more flexible. [Y]ou know the old system really didn’t have the ability to do more,” said Brown.
The college is planning on choosing a company to work with in the next few weeks. After the company is chosen, the college will begin working to develop the new IDs with the goal of piloting the project in the fall of 2016.
According to Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Anthony Coschignano, the plan is to add local merchants to the meal plan next year and have the meal plan completely redesigned by the fall of 2017.
After the new ID cards are designed, the college will start working with local merchants to allow students to use meal points in the Ville. This is part of addressing student’s requests to make meal plans more flexible. Sharples and Essie’s opening hours have little flexibility, and this project will allow students to have more meal options and control over their points to meal ratio.
Coschignano says the college is hoping to make the meal plan more adaptable by expanding meal number options and possibly allowing an option for meals per semester instead of meals per week.
“I think we’re responding to what the community really wants. I know I’ve heard from students and Dean Braun has heard from students that they’d like to have the ability to go downtown more and I can tell you the merchants would welcome that too,” said Brown.
In order to help in the redesign of the meal plan, the college has formed the student-run dining committee. The goal of the committee is to help integrate student opinion into the process.
“Sometimes I use my meal points at the end of the semester just because I have them left. And sometimes I go to Hobbs or the Co-op because I want something. It would be nice to be able to use my points on things I need instead of just using them up” said Serena Sung-Clarke ’19.
Students on the committee are also concerned with increasing options for students with dietary restrictions.
“I definitely think we need more variety, healthier options, greater awareness and inclusion of those with dietary restrictions, and additional hours of operation. I am hoping for changes that allow for these things and give students more of an opportunity to make choices about what they are eating,” said one committee member who requested to remain anonymous.
The Dining Committee and members of the administration will continue to meet during the semester to finalize details of the new meal plans.