Aramark released its plans to change student meal plans and vendors around Main Campus as well as renovations for the Student Center at a launch event last week.
Meal plans will have two noticeable changes starting in Fall 2017. First, it will extend the current unlimited meal plan to cover both the Johnson and Hardwick cafeteria and Morgan Hall food court. Previously, this plan only allowed for unlimited use at J&H.
The other change will be how it deals with meal equivalency, which allows students to use a meal swipe to pay for food at vendors that have an agreement with the university, like Cosi and several brands in the Student Center and bottom floor of Morgan. The meal equivalency pays for a specific dollar value at those restaurants: $6.54 for breakfast and $8.49 for lunch, dinner and fourth meal this year. The new meal plan limits students to a certain number of swipes per week for a meal equivalency. In the current plan, students can use all of their meal swipes as meal equivalency.
For example, a meal plan with 10 swipes a week allows students to use five of those swipes as meal equivalencies. Next year, breakfast will cost $6.71 and lunch, dinner and “late night,” which is replacing fourth meal, will cost $8.69.
“I hate it because let’s say I had eight meal swipes, I can only use four in the [Student Center] and the rest in Morgan and J&H,” said Karina Murcia, a freshman social work major. “I don’t always have time to sit down and wait for food. Sometimes I just need to grab food and go. The [Student Center] is more convenient.”
Temple and Aramark also announced their final plans for renovations to the Student Center, which the Board of Trustees approved in July 2016. The renovations would change the floor plan of the food court, so that the seating could always be open. The restaurants will be set up in a storefront style. Aramark also announced that a Starbucks will open in the atrium.
“We’re creating usable space for the students,” said Endri Baduni, Aramark’s resident district manager. “It doesn’t matter if we’re open or closed, you get to use [those seats]. This serves the true purpose of a student center, to get people together.”
“The design for the student center food court is something we’re working on jointly with Aramark,” said Michael Scales, the associate vice president of Business Services.
Aramark will also replace the vendors in the Student Center with a new group of restaurants, including Chick-Fil-A, Twisted Taco’s, and BurgerFi. Aramark will also bring Philadelphia-based Saladworks, Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, Zaya Mediterranean Grill and Zen Japanese Food Fast to the Student Center. This is Zen’s first location on a college campus.
“I was never fond of the current setup,” said Illya Trofymenko, a junior civil engineering major. “So change is good from my perspective.”
She added that she finds the Student Center food court to be slow and more expensive than she’d like.
With the addition of Zaya to the Student Center food court and Olive Branch in Morgan Hall, the university will now have two locations that offer Halal food to students through their meal plan. Halal is food that is made in accordance with Islamic practices.
Aramark will continue to offer food for people with dietary restrictions at J&H and Morgan dining halls. Both dining halls will offer gluten free, allergen free, vegetarian and vegan options.
“We want to make sure that no matter where you eat, you have the ability to get something,” said John Scheers, Aramark’s marketing coordinator of dining services.
“We’ve had people from the student board in as well as alumni,” said Kasey Marsicano, Aramark’s marketing manager for higher education.
Most of the food options around campus like Sodexo’s Fresh-to-Go stations will be replaced with comparable versions from Aramark. The Southside Diner at Morgan downstairs will be replaced with the Night Owl Diner. Similar changes will occur at the cafes in buildings like Annenberg Hall, Alter Hall and the Science Education and Research Center.
Aramark will also have a kosher deli service at the Hillel at the Edward H. Rosen Center for Jewish Life at Norris and 15th streets. Baduni said that Aramark finds it very important to be working with people that know what they are doing.
Jacob Garnjost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.