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Assessing meal plan changes

International Flags Staff Writer discusses rising prices and student responses.

It can cost as much as ten dollars to get the pasta entrée in the dining hall, which does not include extras many students want, like a dessert or bottled drink.

This semester, students have complained about increased Sodexo prices and low meal plan money, especially on social media outlets like Yik Yak.

“There are always students who spend a lot of money and end up running out early. I have spoken with many individuals however who have a surplus including myself. I eat three meals a day and budget my meal plan money,” Freshman Class Senator and the Food and Dining Services Chairman Matthew Cassidy said. “Sodexo is not the devil. No, contrary to popular belief Sodexo is not evil itself, Sodexo is a business.”

Though many students seem to see it as simple, the Rollins’ relationship with Sodexo can be a complicated issue.

“Sodexo at Rollins College is setup as a fee account. This means that Rollins pays Sodexo a fee for managing the entire dining operation. Sodexo doesn’t make any money other than the fee Rollins pays, all profit (or loss) from the operation goes back to the school,” the Director of Operations Diego Perez-Arenas said.

They have not raised their food prices in several years, perhaps making this year’s increases seem even more drastic.  The prices were raised due to inflation and the high cost of food.

“The price increase was long due in the marketplace. We haven’t had price increases for the last 2 years and food cost was catching up to us really quick,” Perez-Arenas said.

​Though it might have made financial sense to raise the prices, an obvious ramification is that students start running out of money more quickly.

Several students have complained to the Student Government Association.

“Students have complained about Sodexo… however SGA and the food and dining service committee has done well to address these concerns,” Cassidy said.

Next semester, there will be three major changes to campus dining. There will be more nutritional information supplied by Sodexo, changes to the off-campus meal plan money system, and changes to the ways the on-campus cafés and coffee shops operate.  These changes are still being discussed and the details figured out, so the exact plans are not known at this time.  However, it is possible that the dining hall will get a touchscreen system to allow students to better track calorie consumption, the off-campus dining cap might be raised, and cafés could remain open for limited hours on weekends.

Sodexo has also started making some changes based on feedback from Rollins.

“Prices have been adjusted based on menu offerings and costs. The soup or salad option is an idea that we had based on feedback to add more value to the meals provided at the stations,” Perez-Arenas said.

​For now, there are some options for students who feel like they are low on meal plan money.

Students can add money to their meal plan through Foxlink.  Sodexo also has a new loyalty program this semester, called QBot, through which students can get free food by patronizing places such as The Grille.  Almost 400 students have signed up for the program.

There are also different, cheaper meal options around campus instead of the more expensive lunches and dinners for sale in the cafeteria.  For example, the cafés around campus and the cafeteria’s sandwich station can be cheaper options.

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