Scott Café on the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s south campus is introducing updated meal plans for the fall 2017 semester and retiring the old ones.
The retiring meal plans included an unlimited meal plan for $1499 a semester, 10 meals per week for $999 a semester and three meal card packages that did not expire.
The four new plans are an unlimited plan for $1699 a semester, a 160-meal plan for $1079 a semester, a 120-meal plan for $849 a semester and an 80-meal plan for $599 a semester.
Retiring the meal cards was a necessity, said Darrin Dukart, food service director for Scott Residence Hall & Conference Center.
“We’ve grown so much over the last ten years that it’s just no longer feasible for us to offer a plan that doesn’t expire every semester, from a budgeting standpoint and an operations standpoint,” Dukart said. “If you look at other universities, almost everybody offers the type of plan we’ve moved to.”
Scott Café’s budget comes exclusively from those dining there, and budgeting for outstanding meal cards that won’t expire gets harder every semester, Dukart said.
“We’ve sold so many it’s becoming somewhat unmanageable for us,” he said.
Meal cards are still available at their old price until July 1st. Sophomore Shannon Spulik bought one even though she lives on Dodge Campus.
“Sometimes I just want a nice meal where I can get unlimited buffet and I don’t want to make any food, so then I’ll go over there,” Spulik said. “I thought the price that it was at was reasonable, but I also stocked up on it because the price was going up.”
Cutting the meal cards protects students from a “drastic price increase,” Dukart said. This marks the fourth price increase in ten years for Scott Café. Price increases haven’t kept up with rising food costs. The new meal plans are designed to fit better with students’ schedules and the university’s future plans.
“A large percentage of people on 100 meals, either it was not enough for a semester or too many,” Dukart said. “So we picked an 80 or a 120 to kind of match a lot of people.”
The 120-meal plan costs the same per meal as the old 100-meal plan, and the 80-meal plan costs the same per meal as the 50-meal card. The 160-meal plan costs $.50 more per meal, but meals no longer expire each week.
Scott Café serves 1000 to 1300 guests a day, and about a third of them do not live on south campus, Dukart said.
They anticipate an increase of 300 guests per day when Scott Crossing opens this fall. The new plans should accommodate for the increased traffic without a price increase for at least two academic years and may evolve into something broader.
“This style of meal plan could be combined with MavMoney where, if they have the 80 meal plan, they have five meals at Scott Café,” Dukart said, “and maybe they have $500 on their Mav Card to use on North Campus.”
Scott Café’s new meal plans are “still under the lowest average” for the Midwest, Dukart said. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s and Creighton University’s unlimited meal plans are both more than $2000 a semester, according to their websites.
“There are a lot of major changes going on here, so it seemed like the right time to make the transition,” Dukart said. “It’s our goal to keep the costs down, and this is one way we thought we could do it.”