RHA updates meal options for students

Mandy Betty serves lunch to Southern students. Residence hall students will have two meal plan options, plus meal exchange, during 2003-2004.

Mandy Betty serves lunch to Southern students. Residence hall students will have two meal plan options, plus meal exchange, during 2003-2004.

Allison Rosewicz

Due to improvements and changes made in room and board contracts, the Lion’s Den and campus cafeteria may experience a feeding frenzy next year.

Starting for the fall 2003 semester, residence hall students will have two meal plan options plus meal exchange. In the past, students had only one choice of 20 meals per week.

“Basically, the reason we’ve done that is that it was the most economical, the cheapest plan for our students,” said Doug Carnahan, dean of students. “But students are telling us, ‘Hey, we want choices, and we’re willing to pay for those choices.'”

The Residence Hall Association Food Service Committee created the new plans.

With meal exchange, all residence hall students will be permitted to eat any breakfast or lunch offered Monday through Friday at the Lion’s Den Food Court in Billingsly Student Center instead of those meals offered in the cafeteria. Carnahan said students will probably have two choices in the Lion’s Den each day.

“We’ll post menus several days in advance so kids know what they can get over here,” he said. “We think it will draw a lot more students.”

With more students comes the concern the Lion’s Den could become overcrowded. Carnahan said that will be prevented by ordering more tables and chairs.

The computer software for scanning IDs will also be updated during the summer.

Rhonda Campbell, director of food services, likes the new plans.

“It gives them (students) more options because not all of them eat 20 meals,” she said.

In addition to the new options, the College is in the process of putting the food service company contract out to bid. Ameriserve currently holds the contract. Carnahan said that will likely change next year.

“After next year, we even hope to expand and have more choices,” he said. “But we didn’t want to get too complex before we got our new food service company on board and started working with them.”

The cafeteria hours will also change. Although permanent hours have not been decided upon, Carnahan said the hours will most likely be extended to the following: full breakfast will be served from 7-9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. Lunch will be served from 10:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Dinner will be served from 4:30-7 p.m. On Saturdays, breakfast will be served from 8-9 a.m.; lunch from noon-1 p.m.; and dinner from 4:30-6 p.m. On Sundays, breakfast will be served from 8-9 a.m. and lunch from noon-1 p.m., although Carnahan said 11 a.m.-1 p.m. is a possibility.

Although students will have new options, Carnahan said students may have one problem with the changes because residence hall fees will increase by 10 percent.

“The down side is, fees are going to go up,” he said. “They go up every year. They’re going to go up a little more than usual next year.”

Mike Davis, junior finance major and student representative on the RHA Food Service Committee, agreed most students will appreciate the change but believes some will have a problem.

“Everybody will complain about prices going up,” he said. “But it has to be done.”

Several factors are contributing to the room and board hike – the addition of the new plans, a new food service contract and normal yearly increases. Carnahan said the biggest contributor is the fact the residence halls are not being filled.

“This is the first year in 25 years we haven’t filled the residence halls to capacity,” he said.

Despite the hike, Carnahan thinks student reaction will be mostly favorable.

“Our food program here on campus, we’ve always been the cheapest,” he said. “But it’s a dinosaur. It’s time for a change.”

Davis said students need options because many do not want to eat in the cafeteria every meal and waste their money.

“Most other colleges and universities have different meal plans,” he said. “We need to get with the times.”

New room and board contracts for the fall 2003 semester are now available for current residence hall students. Students can guarantee a space by filling out a new contract form with a personal information sheet and returning them to the Residence Life Office, in Billingsly Student Center, Room 211 prior to Friday, Feb. 14.

After Feb. 14, new students applying for housing will have their requests confirmed.