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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Dining changes to include mandatory meal plans for freshmen

As a result of consultations with student groups, University and Chartwells officials have released dining changes for the 2014-2015 academic year, including a measure that requires only freshmen living on campus to purchase meal plans.
Amanda Hatheway, SGA executive committee chief of staff and senior business honors major, said the changes are in part the fruition of campaign promises made by Student Body President Reid Joseph and will include the addition of two chain restaurants and a wider variety of meals to dining dollars combinations to choose from. According to a University Press release, five meal-plan options will be available for freshmen, and two meal-plan options will be available for cadets.
Given the prevalence of meal plans among freshmen and the economic advantage of requiring meals plans, Hathaway said the executive branch decided that advocating for a complete removal of mandatory meal plans “wasn’t worth the fight.”
“In terms of negotiating, there was a better price point for mandatory meal plans if they were kept at mandatory than if it wasn’t,” Hatheway said.
Hatheway said this particular change is accompanied by the addition of an even smaller meal plan option that entails roughly 90 meals.
“If you live on campus and have to buy the mandatory plan, it is much less money,” Hatheway said. “So even those freshmen living on campus have a more affordable option.”
In terms of new chain eateries that will be on campus by next fall, Hatheway said Northside will get a Smashburger restaurant as well a Lime restaurant, a Fuego-concept restaurant popular in the Northeast. Hatheway said a new Whataburger restaurant is still in the works.
“It’ll be nice to have more chain concepts where you know the quality is good,” Hatheway said.
Hatheway said SGA members gauged student concerns through surveys of representative samples of the student population as well as from speaking with student leaders across campus. Hatheway said three priorities arose from these sources of input-removing mandatory meal plans, higher quality of food and more flexibility with meal plan purchases.
Following the failed health inspection that caused the closure of MSC Food Court, Einstein’s Bagels and Sbisa Dining Hall in October, Hatheway said concerns of health standards was also a topic brought up in discussions, but no direct changes regarding health inspections were mentioned in the release.
“Chartwells has been extremely proactive in addressing those concerns,” Hatheway said. “They have completely changed their management staff in terms of who is in charge of dining on campus, they’ve brought in new people and I believe since that issue, they have passed all health inspections.”

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