‘You talked, we listened.’ Meal plan changes come to campus

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Junior business management major Hannah Robinson (left) talks with junior marketing major Kelly Corey (bottom right) about the new meal plans in front of Rosie’s Diner in Tri-Towers on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018.

Valerie Royzman

Last week, Dining Services — on social media and through Vice President of Student Affairs Shay Little at an Undergraduate Student Government meeting — promised to hear students out on their frustrations regarding meal plans and dining changes this fall.

Those promises are now becoming a reality.

Dining Services took to Twitter on Thursday and wrote: “You talked, we listened!”

The tweet announced Dining Services will now provide free, reusable to-go containers for students who don’t have time to eat their meals in the dining halls. This only applies to students with the all-access plans — the Gold Plan or the Blue Plan — and block plans.

Students who already paid $5 for a container — which the original policy called for — will be refunded. If students used Declining Balance Dollars or FlashCash to purchase the container, they will be refunded the same way. Students who paid with cash will receive their refunded money as FlashCash.

According to Dinings Services’ post, students are told to visit the cashier station at any of the all-you-can-eat dining halls — Eastway, The Market and Prentice Cafe — for their containers.

Students will receive a flag on their FlashCards, indicating they have one and must return it during their next visit. Dining Services will provide a properly cleaned container for students’ next to-go meal.

If students forget to bring their containers with them, they can purchase a biodegradable takeout box for $1. This option has existed since the meal plans officially changed at the beginning of the semester.

Early last week, Dining Services expanded the Meal Exchange features to include meal options at Rosie’s Market, Munchies Market in Prentice Hall and the deli on the first floor of Eastway Fresh Food Co.

Meal Exchange — advertised on Dining Services’ website as “an added bonus to the All-Access and Block meal plans” — can swap a meal swipe for another food option at other dining facilities.

Before Little shared the newly added swipe locations at the USG meeting on Aug. 29, Meal Exchange only applied to Rosie’s Diner, the George T. Simon III Cafe and The Cue Express in Olson Hall.

At the meeting, Little addressed angry social media comments and concerns over the new meal plans that erupted at the start of the semester.

“Our students deserve better,” Little said last week. “I demand better from our partners to deliver that to students, and I want you to know that every effort is being made to hold those expectations to a very high level.”

KentWired contacted Little for comments on the dining updates, and she forwarded the email to Eric Mansfield, the executive director of university media relations.

Mansfield said the university wasn’t caught off guard by frustrated students who wanted to see changes to the new dining experience.

“We anticipated with any new program that there will be some growing pains and that we’ll make some modifications and changes,” Mansfield said. “We were prepared to see how it went for the first week, two weeks.”

He said the changes taking place are based on feedback from students, and they will continue throughout the semester in order to meet students’ needs, whether that be time of day or access to food.

“When people have good ideas, we listen to good ideas,” Mansfield said. “We hope that people will continue to give us feedback. While some of the negative feedback certainly stood out, we got positive feedback from people about the changes too. It’s always an ongoing process, and we hope that we can make it better in the first month, first semester, first year.”

Students can continue to give Dining Services feedback by filling out a survey at www.yourdiningvoice.com. Comments or concerns can be sent to Dining Services’ email, [email protected]

Valerie Royzman is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected]