On Sunday, April 10th, sophomore Alex Anderson posted a Facebook status regarding a price change to our current meal plans. Aramark, the dining service currently used by on campus, had allegedly increased the prices of the meals available as a meal swipe without notifying students of the change.
The Facebook status quickly circulated, getting over 140 “likes” and multiple shares.
Yesterday, an email composed by Jennie Smith, dean of students, was sent out to all students. The email explained that the reason for the price increase in One Main was due to the fact that “[an adjustment was made to] fix a software upgrade made over winter break to the operating system that manages meal plans and dining operations at all Capital dining locations.”
Anderson’s Facebook post even received a comment from Nicole Johnson, executive director of marketing and communications.
“Students, we’re listening,” Johnson said. “We heard your complaints this weekend about price changes in One Main Café, and we’re working with Aramark to understand the situation and find a permanent solution. In the meantime, prices have been adjusted back so that students can get an entrée, fries and a drink in One Main Café for the price of a meal swipe. They will remain that way for the rest of the semester.”
Most of the reason that students are so outraged by this change is because there have been multiple encounters with cold, undercooked, and inedible food throughout the semester. Last month, a picture circulated from a student who bit into raw chicken. A few days ago, another student posted a photo of the moldy bun that her burger was served on.
This controversy has started a conversation between students and administration. On April 13, dining services director Chuck Chapman held a free dinner forum, Dine with the Director, attended by around 20 students and some faculty members. The goal of the dinner was to answer questions from students and address their dissatisfaction with the dining options available on campus.
Smith continued to say that “when Aramark switched to the new dining operations software, the meal equivalency value — the dollar amount the software system assigns to a ‘meal’ or a swipe of your Capital ID — was incorrectly increased to $15, an amount two-and-half times higher than the agreed upon rate of $6.50. As a result, for the last three months students have been able to purchase nearly three times the amount of food they normally would be able to purchase for the cost of one meal swipe at One Main Café.”
There have been many rumors circulating about the possibility of Capital renegotiating their contract with Aramark, though there is not yet definitive proof.
Today, a peaceful protest will be held by the fountains from noon to 2 p.m. The protest was organized by sophomore Mitchell Melott and is expected to have a turnout of around 70 students.
The goal of the protest is to “come out and show Capital that as a student body, we do not support Aramark,” Melott said on the Facebook page created for the event.
After tomorrow, students hope to have some answers about what dining options will look like next year. Administration has said that any questions or concerns about Aramark can be directed to Chuck Chapman at Chapman-Charles@aramark.com. Additional questions may be directed to Jennie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Smith also invites any student with a comment to visit her office, located in the Student Union, room number 118.
Smith said that “as a follow-up to [Dine with the Director], we’re planning a forum [later] this semester so more students can be involved.”
More information will be released about finalized plans for next semester as the story progresses.