February 06, 2004
meal card: Do not leave home without it
House of Student Representatives wants students to be
able to use their meal cards at local eateries.
fries and a drink in The Main: $4.47. The same meal at
Wendys: $3.89. Being able to eat out on send home:
Using meal cards to eat off campus could be a reality
for students in the future, Vice Chancellor for Student
Affairs Don Mills said in an e-mail interview.
Executive members of the House of Student Representatives
have had conversations with Chancellor Victor Boschini
and Mills about potentially using meal cards off campus,
and President Jay Zeidman said they are extremely
Mills said research is currently being done to determine
technical requirements, the cost, how costs would be allocated
and how funds would be transferred from TCU to restaurants.
After these questions have been answered, he said a timetable
should be more clear. There is nothing in the schools
contract with Sodexho that would prevent this from happening,
He said it is unknown what restaurants would participate,
but he expects it to be area restaurants.
George Ferguson, chairman of the Dining Services Committee,
said he got Quiznos Sub on Hulen to agree to give TCU
15 percent of their profit from meal card purchases, something
he said Mills had requested. Ferguson said he has also
had a conversation with Chipotle.
Zeidman said the percentage would be to pay for the technology
and people necessary to run the system.
Rick Flores, general manager of Dining Services, said
Sodexho gives the school a percentage of their profits
to maintain and fund dining facilities, but that number
is in a private contract.
Chuck Bush, an owner of Fuzzys Taco Shop, said there
is no way his business could make such an agreement.
We operate on a minimal profit margin anyway,
Bush said. There is no way we could work on a percentage
system. He said Quiznos has more flexibility because
it is a franchise.
Bush said he would love to be able to take meal cards
and recommended a monthly or annual fee, or a per-swipe
charge like credit card companies use.
Students would prepay for off-campus meals in addition
to purchasing the already required dining program, Mills
That didnt seem to bother students interviewed in
Its cheaper and you have more variety eating
off campus, said Andrea Pate, a senior music major.
Having money on the card for off-campus meals would
be real helpful, because my parents would be paying for
it, said David Schmidt, a freshman Spanish major.
Flores said the mandatory $1,000 per semester meal plan
for freshmen is in the nations lowest quartile,
and Dining Services provides safe locations with convenient
hours where students can be part of a community that off-campus
restaurants cant offer.
He said the average student spends about $2,000 on food
each semester, both on and off campus.
Ferguson said the House may try to organize an open forum
where students could voice concerns and suggestions about
the proposal to the chancellor or vice chancellor.
The ultimate decision will be made by the chancellor upon
the recommendation of the cabinet, Mills said.
Other prominent Texas universities such as Texas A&M
University, Baylor University and Southern Methodist University
already have off-campus meal plans, Ferguson said.
Brett Perlowski, resident district manager for Aramark
at Baylor Dining Services, said Baylors Bear
Bucks program is similar to what Mills is proposing.
He said students are required to buy an on-campus meal
plan and then they can add additional Bear Bucks
on their student ID cards to use at 55 to 60 vendors ranging
from restaurants to tire shops.