The inside of a college refrigerator is typically stocked with leftover pizza and plastic-wrapped mystery sandwiches. Essential nutrients creep their way into most studentsâ€™ diet only when parents visit.
Those living off campus can either opt to eat in the dining halls or explore the multiple restaurant and grocery stores available.
The Hungry Rams Meal Plan and online restaurant guide was introduced this summer to relieve this stress and strengthen Fort Collins businesses.
Hungry Rams is an alternative meal plan geared toward off-campus students who want more flexibility in their dining options and parents who want to make sure their kids are eating something other than junk food.
Money is added to a card based upon meals-per-week, with each meal estimated at $7.50, on average. Options range from $315 to $1,890 but can also be customized at any price.
â€œItâ€™s kind of a controlled spending,â€ said Hungry Rams owner Jeff Marcus. â€œThe parents can give money to the students for food instead of saying â€˜hereâ€™s $1,000â€™ and they donâ€™t know exactly where itâ€™s going.â€
The card can then be taken to 30 participating businesses and used for food or shopping at Sunflower Market on the corner of Drake Road and Lemay Avenue.
Marcus, a Colorado State graduate, became the area developer for Papa Romanoâ€™s in Boulder and added his business to the Flat Irons plan used by students at CU-Boulder.
â€œIt worked really well for my business, and it worked really well for the students,â€ Marcus said.
Woodyâ€™s Woodfired Tavern, located west of campus on Laurel Street, recently adopted the service and hopes that it will become more of an eatery than a party location.
â€œI think it will get our name out in front of people,â€ said Ed Tucker, general manager at Woodyâ€™s.
Once the card is swiped, Hungry Rams receives the revenue and transfers it to the business.
Marcus estimates that his business will have 400 CSU users. Students can buy the cards by phone, online or at the Rams Bookstore at 130 W. Laurel Street, where Hungry Rams is located.
The new service is not meant to compete with CSUâ€™s off-campus meal plans but can be used as a supplement. Off-campus meal plans are used in the dining halls on campus, unlike the Hungry Rams cards.
â€œThere have been private off campus meal plans in the past, but it hasnâ€™t impacted our meal plan much,â€ said Tonie Miyamoto, Director of Housing and Dining Services.
Hungry Rams is not exclusive to the college crowd. Customers also include high school students and anyone interested.
â€œAs long as you can buy groceries with it, itâ€™s OK because eating out all the time isnâ€™t healthy,â€ said Matt Jaramillo, a psychology graduate student.
Those without cards can still use Hungry Rams services via http://Hungryrams.com, where they can order online from a variety of Fort Collins businesses.
Businesses will also offer special deals for online orders throughout the semester.
Hungry Rams will be at the CSU Flea Market Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lory Student Center.
Crime Beat Reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.