After running a pilot meal exchange program at Hoya Court last semester, the Office of Auxiliary Business Services, GUSA, and Aramark are currently working together to evaluate the long-term feasibility of the program.
During the trial run from Dec. 8 to Dec. 13, students were able to use meal swipes to pay for predetermined food options at Elevation Burger, Subway, and Salad Creations from 4:30pm until closing.
According to Joelle Wiese, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Business Services, the program was generally positively received. “There were some ups and downs for Aramark and for students, but most students who participated in the pilot seemed to be happy,” she wrote in an email to the Voice.
Although students would like the additional flexibility in their meal plan options, GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) recognizes that the program might not be easy to implement moving forward. “A meal exchange program is both extremely desirable and fairly expensive for the university to operate,” he wrote in an email to the Voice.
In order to keep the program long term, Wiese explained that they would need to determine whether or not it’s financially viable. “There is a significant financial impact that needs to be mitigated in order to successfully implement a program like this on a permanent basis,” she wrote.
Another aspect of the program that has to be considered is the impact it will have on customers without meal plans. According to Wiese, some of the challenges they face moving forward include the speed of service and the maximum operational capacity of the restaurants.
Despite the large influx of customers, managers of the Hoya Court businesses are motivated to accommodate their demand. “The Hoya Court team was very dedicated and executed the pilot program successfully, in what was unchartered territory,” Wiese wrote.
Although the permanent implementation of the program faces challenges, GUSA will continue its support. Tezel wrote, “We will need to think creatively with university administrators to see how we can ensure a financially sustainable program that increases on-campus meal options for students.”