The many recent add-ons and changes to the University of Indianapolis dining services have caused a cost increase for some food items on campus. Along with the change in prices, some items now can only be purchased with cash, rather than with last year’s method of swiping for most food items. UIndy Dining Services Service Manager Steve May is busy working with the recent changes.
“Right now, we’re adjusting to see what works best for the students,” May said. “We have been receiving a lot of feedback from students, and we are trying to use that to our advantage.”
According to May, UIndy Dining Services has been listening to suggestions from students and building around those. Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli mentioned that combos soon will be added to grill areas, based on the suggestions from students who had contacted her.
“One of the big complaints from students is that they can’t get some of the burgers with fries and a drink for a meal swipe, and we’re making those adjustments so that at basically all the grill areas you can get an actual meal with your swipes,” Vitangeli said.
Since the start of the semester, the Hound Express has adopted a stock of many cash-only items, most of which were payable with meal swipes during the last academic year. This has annoyed some students, including sophomore criminal justice major Matthew Mobley. He believes the use of cash-only items is unnecessary because students already use swipes to get food.
“I would like to see them eliminate the cash-only items,” Mobley said. “I don’t see any items so out of the ordinary that they have to charge us Crimson Cash or real cash. I figure that swipes should be good enough. I mean, they are getting our money either way.”
May said that cash-only items provide a more convenient option for students, especially commuters who may not have a meal plan with the school. However, both May and Vitangeli said that not all items will remain a cash-only option.
“In terms of the Grab-and-Go, one thing we are going to change that we had a lot of requests for was to bring back the small bottles of Gatorade and to add those into the meal plan,” Vitangeli said. “In terms of the bigger bottle drinks, like the Naked juice, and the sushi— from a financial aspect, at this time, we’re not able to change those back. We really had to look at the overall cost of running a dining operation, and what we were spending on Grab-and-Go items, and all those things we were truly losing money on,” Vitangeli said. “However, that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to re-evaluate things throughout the year. We will, and we may see if there are any other items we can bring in to replace some things. But for now, the Naked juices and the sushi will not go back onto the meal plan.”
In addition to these re-evaluations, Vitangeli, UIndy Dining Services, student government and RHA also will be discussing the current meal plan format. They will consider whether the meal plan still accommodates the growing student body and possible changes the entire structure of the meal plans for the next academic year.
“We are going to be looking overall at the meal plan structure, and we will definitely do some student surveys and include both student government and the Residence Hall Association in that,” Vitangeli said.
“One of the things throughout this academic year that we are going to look at is… [the meal plan structure] whether it works for the university at this point, because we have expanded so much since we implemented that meal plan [structure]. So we’ll be looking at the five-10- 14- and 19-swipe meal plans and seeing whether those are the right values for the school at this time.”