Meal Swipes the Bank Account (Part One)
By Joey Krassner
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article defending the new TDR. I championed AU for listening to our concerns and even cited students as a primary reason for TDR’s negative image. I claimed the food had improved since Aramark’s departure. However, all the recent praise for TDR masked an aura of confusion over Chartwells and their other on-campus eateries. As Chartwells continues to build its AU presence, cracks within their foundation are starting to reveal themselves. For that reason, I attempted to figure out what was happening behind the scenes and while the issues I discovered were clearly problematic, the lack of transparency over even the basics surrounding the updated on-campus eateries truly strikes me.
To start off this quest it’s important for people to understand what motivated me. As someone who uses many of his meal swipes outside of TDR, figuring out the value of a meal swipe has been essential to my well-being. Naturally when I moved back in, I decided to test my meal swipes at Eagles Nest Market at East Campus; I live in Constitution so it was the closest place for me to eat. I successfully bought a salad for a meal swipe. I continued using my swipes for salads for three more days after my first success until one day, the lady behind the counter rejected my meal swipe for a salad. I told her I had done this before, and she explained that meal swipes could only get sandwiches. This left me confused, yet unfazed, since this policy seemed relatively new, but as I’d later find out, I wouldn’t be the only victim of this campus-wide pandemic.
My last experience at Pom and Honey confirmed my suspicion that meal swipe problem was not isolated. While waiting in line for my bowl, I overheard a student making a valiant effort to try and understand what she could get with a meal swipe. The conversation was so diluted in confusion on both ends that any attempt for me to explain what occurred would give me an aneurysm. That conversation, along with similar complaints expressed by fellow writers of TheMove, illustrated a clear and well-known problem with the meal swipe system that can be summed up with one question: what can I get for a meal swipe?
This should be an easy question to answer, right? I should show up to any food place on campus, and the information should be clearly illustrated somewhere along the menu. Unfortunately, this is just too difficult by Chartwells’ standards. While most places have some information detailing what a meal swipe can get, the information is not always clear. For example, Pom and Honey mentions that you can 4 sides with each bowl or salads, but they don’t clarify that some sides are not a part of the meal swipe deal. While this lack of clarity makes for painful conversations with the workers, who are also confused by the new system, this doesn’t compare to the discrepancies between the actual price of the items and the value of a meal swipe. Each meal swipe is worth roughly $11, but many of the items that require a meal swipe cost significantly less than $11. A prime example of this can be seen at Create in the Kerwin Building. One meal swipe at Create only gets you a single milkshake or smoothie, which when you read between the lines, is $11 per smoothie.
With all the new updates and information relating on dining services, there is simply too much information for me to fit into this short article. I know most of you don’t want an article that rambles on and on over this particular issue, which is why I’ve decided to split this article into two parts; the next part of this issue will be released next week. I know it’s odd for me to split this article, but I believe it’s important for me to illustrate as much as I know about this particular issue. Every student with a meal plan, which constitutes a significant population of our school, is affected by this issue. I will not let you guys down.