Sep 262002
Authors: Kyle Endres

Now students do not need cash to buy products from the Lory Student Center Food Court.

Starting this semester, the food court began offering “flex” dollars and convenience accounts, programs that let any student pay for food court products with prepaid money on their student ID.

Flex dollars are bought with Residence Hall meal plans and convenience accounts are available to all students and faculty. They can be opened at the University ID Office. Last year, only students with meal plans could use their IDs to pay at the food court.

In addition to the food court, plans are in the works to have flex dollars and convenience accounts work at Sweet Sinsations, the Ramskeller and Ramboulliet. This should be operational sometime in October, said Ken DeVault, retail operation manager for Lory Student Center Dining Services.

“This year we’re able to offer (the program) not only to students with meal plans, but to all students,” DeVault said. “It makes the senior not feel left out because they’re not saying, ‘we didn’t have that option when we were freshmen.'”

Flex dollars are a part of the meal plans offered by Residence Hall Dining Services. Of the six available plans, three offer flex dollars in varying amounts.

The format for meal plan users is different from last year, in that students now pay the actual amount of the food or beverages they buy. Last year, meal plan users were deducted one meal for every meal purchased at the food court.

“You don’t have to worry about carrying cash, which I think is a real advantage for most of us,” said Ann Tisdale, director of Residence Hall Dining Services. “This gives students more flexibility.”

The new flex dollar program seems to be popular with meal plan users. About one-third of students buying meal plans this semester elected to buy plans with flex dollars included, Tisdale said.

Jamie McCalley, a resident assistant at Corbett Hall, thinks the flex dollars are a good idea, but also thinks meal plan meals should be transferable into flex dollars.

“Why can’t they change residence hall meals into flex dollars?” said McCalley, a sophomore business major. “I do like how you can get whatever you want. There were more restrictions when they weren’t using the flex dollars.”

Convenience accounts allow students without meal plans to put money on their student IDs and purchase items from the food court.

The presence of the two programs should help cut down on theft from the food court, DeVault said. Students can now buy small purchases without using a whole meal from the meal plan.

“The added benefit of allowing them to purchase anything should, and has to date, actually cut down on theft,” DeVault said. “They’re only paying now for what they’re actually getting.”

The flex dollars and convenience accounts are part of a plan to have a one-card campus, meaning a student ID can be used to buy things anywhere on campus. Vending account money cannot be used as convenience account money, however.

“Students can get anything they want,” DeVault said. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

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