The cafeteria is rolling out a new system next year.
Food Service Director Rick Harmon describes the new system as “7 a.m. to 7 p.m. continuous service … which means students are allowed to come and go in the Dining Commons as many times as they would like Monday [through] Friday.”
This is more convenient for most people, but it might not be helpful to those who don’t eat in the cafeteria very often.
The regular meal times will remain the same, but the cafeteria will have reduced options between meals. Sandwiches, salad, and soup will always be available, and the specialty hot food bars will be on rotation throughout the week.
Vice President for Student Development Dr. Vern Wesley is excited for the change.
“The fine art of missing a meal—breakfast due to oversleeping and lunch due to a class going long—will be a thing of the past,” he said.
“A student will be able to enter the Commons any time and many times between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.”
This is also a positive change for athletes. They will no longer be forced to eat bagged meals on a regular basis because of practices running during mealtimes. Now, athletes can work meals around their schedules.
Dr. Wesley recognized that there are things that still need to be worked out. “This may not completely solve the problem, but it should decrease the number of missed dinners.”
Though many perceive this as a positive change, the “continuous service” system raises a lot of issues. Residential students have always been forced to have a meal plan, but the new system means that everyone is forced to purchase the same meal plan; everyone has the “unlimited meals” plan now. This is a big issue for students who don’t regularly eat in the Caf. Students going from the 10 meals a week plan to the new continuous service plan will be paying over $600 more for a service they are not likely to use any more often.
“Since the beginning of time and the invention of residence halls, a square meal or two has been a part of the deal—thus the invention of room and board,” said Dr. Wesley.
He continued, “I do not know of any school that options out a meal plan with their room. In most cases there’s an agreement with the food service provider to insure a certain number of boarders are signed up.”
Forcing residential students to eat in the cafeteria not only ensures that there is business for the food service company, but also helps community fellowship.
As for the food quality in the cafeteria after these changes, it is expected to stay the same.
“Our food quality is in line with company standards. There will not be a decrease ever as long as I have anything to do with it. I am proud of what we serve or I would not serve it,” said Harmon.
The price for commuter and faculty meals are expected to increase as well next year, but Cub Cash, transfer meals and weekend meal times will all remain the same.
“Every five years the meal prices change for our faculty, guests, and commuters. This summer, starting July 1, the Commons prices for meals are going up,” said Harmon.
Pioneer College Caterers and Student Development do not plan on looking into alternatives or additional options for the occasional residential Caf customer until the continuous service system has been running for at least a year.