New cafeteria changes coming to RU

by Will Dancer / Staff Reporter

Photo by Alejandro Caballero.

Beginning next semester, Roosevelt University’s students can expect to see some significant changes coming to the McCormick Dining Center in the Wabash building. Roosevelt will be going in a new direction regarding student meal plans and shifting toward a buffet style and a limited amount of meals per week.

Beginning in the fall, residence life will be implementing a new, “all-you-care-to-eat” meal plan that will give students a certain number of meals per week — there is a 14 meal and a 19 meal option — as well as flex dollars. “This new structure will resemble the meal plan options available at the University Center Chicago which helps make the on-campus living experience more uniform for all residential students,” said Director of housing and residence life Hilda Rojas-Duarte.

Depending on the student’s chosen meal plan, either 14 or 19 swipes will be loaded onto their ID every Monday, and they will have the entire week to use their swipes as they please. “Meals” are considered any food taken from the meal stations like the grille, World Flavors, the marketplace and the deli station. “The flex dollars will continue to work as declining balance. Flex dollars allow students to purchase items that are considered ‘grab and go’ such as bottled drinks, ice cream and snacks in packages,” Rojas-Duarte said.

However, the new structure will be provided at a slightly increased price rate, increasing from $3,811 to $4,000 for the standard meal plan (14 meals per week, $500 flex dollars per year) and from $4,275 to $4,700 for the deluxe meal plan (19 meals per week, $500 flex dollars per year). Also, meal plans will continue to be required for students while living in the Wabash building.

These changes came about because of feedback from a housing satisfaction survey taken during the spring semester. The survey asked about interest to move to an all-you-can-eat meal plan and how much students would be willing to pay for it. The survey got a total of 134 responses from residents. “66 percent of those students shared that they wanted an all you care to eat meal plan dining option,” said Vice President of student affairs and dean of students Jamar Orr. “Of that 66 percent who responded that they wanted an all-you-care-to-eat meal plan, 61 percent said that they would prefer a plan that offered either 15 meals per week or 19 meals per week.”

“This change will help students be guaranteed meals throughout their time living on-campus,” Rojas-Duarte said. “There have been times when students have run out of meal plan money early-on in the semester, leaving them without funds to eat. Our hope is that the new meal plans will remedy this problem.”

Regarding any potential structural changes that may be done in the cafeteria, Orr explains that the university is trying to enhance the overall dining experience in the cafeteria but they are in the early stages of deciding what, if any, structural changes will be done. 

Some news concerning expanding vegan and gluten free options in the cafeteria was also provided by Orr. They’re currently hoping to add two extra stations, including a “grains and greens” salad station with fresh vegetables, whole grains and plant based proteins.

“Vegan and gluten free options will be integral to this station. Gluten free and vegan items will also be available at all other stations,” Orr said. “Feedback from students will be very important on this.”

And as for paying with cash or credit card in the dining center, prices have been tentatively set to be somewhere in the range of $6.99 for breakfast, $7.99 for lunch and $8.99 for dinner, this is subject to change. “This is what we are seeing at other universities,” Orr said. 

“I was surprised to hear about the meal plan change,” said Amani Reichert-Giron, a sophomore psychology major. “Especially because I don’t remember seeing any surveys or questionnaires. I’m not a fan of the meal change, I think it will force students to eat more than they need to at a certain time.”  

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