New dining initiative needed

It has been two semesters since the dining service management on campus has switched from Marriott to Aramark. While food quality on the whole has improved, there are still problems.

The pricing, for example, that has been described as “competitive” for the area, puts students at a disadvantage.

Even if an item that costs a certain amount of money at a location close to campus was to be the same price on campus, it might still be too high a price for USF students to afford on a regular basis.

This is unfair, as students often do not have a choice in the matter and have to eat a bacon cheeseburger for a little more than $3 on campus, whereas a similar one costs 99 cents at Wendy’s. Freshmen who live on campus are even required to have an on-campus meal plan in their first semester, which leaves them few options.

The problem will continue to grow in the future, as USF tries to eliminate its commuter campus label in favor of a more localized campus community.

To alleviate this problem, Aramark introduced a plan allowing students to pay for meals up front and receive rebates. While this might be better than no savings at all, many lack the funds to “simply pay $950 up front and receive $1,000” of food, as the USF Dining Web site suggests. The rebate of $50 only amounts to 5 percent and is not much of a deal.

“The Club,”another plan marketed by Aramark, also promises discounts to its members on selected items. This is a good approach, but as the selection of items sold for a discounted price is made by Aramark, the items are often unsuitable for students with special dietary needs, as vegetarians and religious practitioners, such as Muslims and Jews.

If a plan was to be introduced that gives extra points for each dollar spent on campus, these problems might be remedied. It would lower food costs for those who depend on them regularly without confusing or binding plans.