Students to pay more for dining services

UH Dining Services proposed plan was approved by the UH Board of Regents and will go into effect in the fall for the 2011-2012 school year.

The plan, which includes meal plan and door pricing rate increases, is drawing concern from students, but University Services constituent relations coordinator, Jonas Chin, said the price increase in meal plans is not significant and is there to cover the cost of rising food prices.

“If you see some of the news, what they are projecting is that food costs, chicken, milk, these things are going up and because of that we have to be able to buy the food and bring it here and take care of the labor,” Chin said. “That’s basically the reason for the increase.”

Food Services Advisory Committee Vice-Chair Marinela Acuna-Arreaza voiced her concern in January’s town hall meeting over whether the meal plan rate increase was to profit Aramark at the students’ expense, but Chin said on Tuesday it was all about keeping up with the cost of food and to look out for the best for the students.

“As far as (dining service) companies on campus, our job is to make sure they are providing the best service possible for UH students,” he said. “And that’s part of the reason why we have a food services advisory committee — to help evaluate that.”

Although students may not be happy about the increase, some understand the need for it.

“Rate increases have never been popular amongst students, but I feel that due to the increase in price of foods everywhere and the economic downturn, the increase might be justified,” managing and marketing senior Kamil Khan said.

“The only thing I can hope for as a resident that lives on campus is that the service is tantamount to the increased rate of dining,” Khan said. “And that the dining hall remains conducive to the eating habits of its customers.”

UH Dining services has been working with the Food Services Advisory Committee in evaluating different alternatives to offer the best pricing to students.

Chin said they looked at what other colleges are providing for the price that students are paying at those campuses.

One of the plans reviewed was that of Texas Tech University.

“What we’ve done is to look at if we were to go self-operational. If you look at Texas Tech’s meal plan, they’re double currently what we’re at, at UH. The University is not in the business of doing food,” Chin said. “We’re here to make sure that we have the resources for our students to be successful. But if you look at Texas Tech’s meal plan, they are a self-operational hospitality.”

Tech’s meal plan prices are in a range of more than $3000, Chin said, and it does not offer students 33 different places where they can eat, like UH.

The UH Dining Services meal plan proposal report shows that prices at UH are significantly lower than Baylor, Texas A&M and Rice.

Even though Khan was unable to attend the town hall meetings, he is aware of the changes being brought to the campus and has a suggestion.

“I am quite content with the dining options on campus, although I do wish that other facilities besides the Moody Towers dining hall had longer hours so the residents had more choices. During the weekends, a student living on campus doesn’t have the option to be picky.”

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