SRU partners with new food vendor, introduces new meal plan prices
Slippery Rock University has a new contact food vendor, Aramark, but students can expect no fee increases and the same dining locations, including Quaker Steak & Lube and Starbucks in the Smith Student Center.
June 21, 2021
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — When students return to Slippery Rock University this fall, they will have a variety of new dining options to choose from. And the return to in-person dining is just the start. SRU has contracted with Aramark as its food service vendor for at least the next seven years, replacing AVI Fresh. Under the new contract, SRU will offer students a choice of meal plans that are either less expensive or have no fee increases compared to previous years, as well as access to offerings with some new features.
"Students will benefit from a more simplified meal plan structure and better value," said Christopher Cole, SRU director of auxiliary operations and student services, who oversees the contract with Aramark on behalf of the University. "They are getting more for their dollar and we are pleased to be able make dining more affordable."
SRU is offering six meal plan options. All residential students, except those living in ROCK Apartments, are automatically enrolled in a default plan of 14 meals per week with $350 in flexible spending dollars. Flex dollars are used like a gift card to purchase items a la carte at any food service location, or to pay at the door of Boozel Dining Hall without using a 'meal swipe.'
Residential students have three other options, while off-campus or commuter students can opt into one of two meal plans. Students can enroll or change their meal plan between July 1 and Sept. 5 through the My Dining/My Housing portal online.
The following are the meal plan prices for 2021-22:
- 19 meals per week, plus $250 flex ($1,785).
- 14 meals per week, plus $350 flex ($1,696).
- 10 meals per week, plus $350 flex ($1,400).
- 175-meal block per semester, plus $350 flex ($1,475).
- 7 meals per week, plus $100 flex ($840, commuter/off-campus students only).
- 75-meal block per semester, $100 flex ($600, commuter/off-campus students only).
The 19- and 14-per-week plans and the 75-meal block plan are the same prices as last year but with an increase in flex dollars. The 10- and 7-per-week plans and the 175-meal black plan represent fee decreases of 11%, 9% and 46%, respectively.
"Other substantial changes that I think students will like is to our meal swipes," Cole said. "Previously, students were limited by locations and hours in how they can use meal swipes, but now we're going to be rolling out meal swipes at all locations except for Quaker Steak & Lube and Starbucks. Students will also have what's called a 'meal exchange,' which functions like a combo meal at locations such as Rocky's where you might have two slices of pizza, an apple and a soft drink as a meal swipe.
"And, finally, students will be able to use a meal swipe credit toward a purchase. So, if you wanted to buy a whole pizza, you could use a meal swipe to take meal-equivalent money off the price and then you pay for the rest with your flex dollars."
Cole conducted focus groups and gathered other input from students as the University was preparing its bid to prospective vendors and found that one of the strongest preferences was more flex-dollar value.
SRU's bid process for a vendor was part of a shared-services agreement with three other schools in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education, but each university had local representation and input to make the collective decision that resulted in choosing Aramark.
While the locations of dining facilities will remain the same as pre-pandemic academic years, the concept restaurants and their names will be different. Aramark has retained the Quaker Steak & Lube and Starbucks franchises in the Smith Student Center, but there will be new concepts in places like Weisenfluh Dining Hall. For example, a concept restaurant called Revolve will have a variety of authentic cuisines and offerings from local partner restaurants that will rotate every few weeks.
Although some location hours might not be the same as before the pandemic, Cole confirmed that Boozel Express will return and offer 24/7 access.
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