TCU Daily Skiff Friday, February 06, 2004
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TCU meal card: Do not leave home without it
The House of Student Representatives wants students to be able to use their meal cards at local eateries.

By Matt Turner

A burger, fries and a drink in The Main: $4.47. The same meal at Wendy’s: $3.89. Being able to eat out on send home: priceless.

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 supportive.”

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 school’s contract with Sodexho that would prevent this from happening, Mills said.

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 Fuzzy’s 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 said.

That didn’t seem to bother students interviewed in The Main.
“It’s 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 nation’s lowest quartile, and Dining Services provides safe locations with convenient hours where students can be part of a community that off-campus restaurants can’t 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 Baylor’s “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.
 
 
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