All students who live on campus at Slippery Rock University are required to purchase a meal plan that costs anywhere from about $1,600 to $1,800 per semester. Because of this, it’s common for students to ask why it is a requirement.
According to an article written by Jim Parsons from WTAE news, Slippery Rock University is one of the universities which has made the most revenue from their meal plans. It stated that the university has made almost $4.5 million since 2008 through rebates, profit-sharing and other incentives.
Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Constance Foley explained that there are a few reasons why meal plans are required for all students who live on campus.
“Financially, we can’t run the programs we want to run without requiring students to have a meal plan,” Foley explained.
Foley said that the other main reason why meal plans are required for on campus students is because it helps students transition from transition from high school to college.
“When they come to college, they don’t have to worry about themselves,” Foley explained. “They can focus on their academics.”
Another reason why meal plans are required according to Foley is that there are very few facilities in the residence halls for students to be able to cook.
Foley explained the contract with AVI in greater detail. She stated that every year AVI is given the same amount of money that they got last year plus about 3 percent because of the consumer price index. Because the university has to pay AVI an additional 3 percent, the cost of meal plans for students increases by 3 percent every year.
Every once in a while, the university decides to completely change the types of meal plans offered. For example, when the new restraunts in Wiesnfluh and the Robert M. Smith Student center opened, more meal plans were developed with additional flex dollars.
Another notable part of the contract with AVI is that they give 25 free meal plans to the universities administrators in the form of meal cards. According to Foley, this is a common practice with all but 2 schools in the PASSHE system having similar incentives.
Foley states that there are many reasons why these meal cards are beneficial to the university. She states that it is supposed to create a sense of community by allowing students to eat with the administrators. It also allows the administrators to see what AVI is doing, and it allows them to give direct feedback about the service.
President Cheyrl J. Norton stated that she has only used her meal card three times this year, so she is looking into what else could be done with the cards.
“I’ve looked into what are sister institutions have done,” Norton said. “Some of them have taken these meal cards and given them as part of need based grants to students who need additional support. So were looking into if we could do that, because I think that would be a great idea.”