SRU announces no increase to student food plan costs, expanded dining services

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Students selecting food

March 23, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In what could be considered a rare announcement in higher education these days, Slippery Rock University officials reported today that student food contract costs for Fall 2018 would not increase and dining options would.

"Working with AVI Fresh, our contract food vendor, we were able to drill down and renegotiate the University contract, the net result being that students will see a 4.5 percent savings in direct costs plus a slew of new services including expanded hours of operation; greater flexibility as to where on campus they can utilize their food contracts, including flex dollars; and an expanded online ordering system," said Amir Mohammadi, vice president for finance, administrative services and advancement services. "This is a tremendous win for our students."

"We currently have 3,637 meal plan contracts. While most are residence hall students, non-residence hall students may also purchase plans. What this means for them is that should they renew those contracts, there won't be any increase in cost," Mohammadi said.

"The AVI contract indicates they may automatically increase annual food plan contracts based upon the Consumer Price Index. To their credit, when we asked them to hold off on this increase, they found a way to do so," he said.

That CPI increase of 2.3 percent equates to a more than $119,000 costs savings to SRU students.

"In addition to holding the line on the CPI increase, AVI also agreed to a 4.5 percent reduction of vendor board costs, a $234,558 value equivalency to SRU," Mohammadi said.

"We also were able to work together to address student concerns about the hours of operation in some of our dining facilities and where and when students could use their flex dollars," Mohammadi said.

"When you factor in the value of enhanced hours of operation and greater expansion of meal swipe acceptance (a value of $158,987), all together the total additional contract value to SRU for Fiscal year 2018-19 is $513,430," Mohammadi said.

"Student feedback plays a huge part in everything we do on this campus," said Joe Balaban, resident district manager for AVI and former director of dining at SRU.

As a result of working with Mohammadi and analyzing the feedback the company received through comment cards, online surveys and intercept interviews, patrons of SRU dining services were greeted with several new and exciting menu options and extended dining hours when they returned for the start of the spring semester.

"We've already received positive feedback from students regarding the improvements we've already implemented and are looking forward to several additional customer-focused changes," Balaban said.

Mohammadi said the University and AVI also were in the early stages of investigating the feasibility of franchising one of several popular quick service restaurants. "Students have told us they are interested in such vendors as Taco Bell or Chick-fil-A. We will continue reaching out to the students with further surveying in the near future to further gauge their wants and desires on this front."

SRU Meal Plans offer a variety of Meal Swipe and Flex Fund combinations. All students living in University-managed residence halls are required by contract to have a meal plan. A 15-meal/$255 flex plan is incorporated into the residence hall agreement. However, these students have an option of several other plans from which to choose.

To learn more about contract dining options at SRU visit: https://www.aviserves.com/sru/meal-and-dining-plans.html

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robb.king@sru.edu