With Sodexo taking over as ETSU’s food service provider, some students have noticed a few significant changes.
This year ETSU has installed new Freestyle soda machines across campus. The paper cups that the Atrium sells now have stickers on the bottom of the cup that a sensor in the soda machine reads. These do not allow consumers to get a refill with the same cup.
“I think that the Market Place has improved so much in food quality,” said junior Matt Brewer. “The setup is better too. The only thing I don’t like is no free drink refills at places like Subway, Taco Bell and Chick-Fil-a.”
Another change since the Sodexo takeover is that students may use their meal plan at The Treehouse. The Treehouse now offers made to order salads, soups and desserts.
“The Treehouse was a great addition to the meal plan at ETSU,” said junior Patrick McFall. “It’s a great option for when you don’t have enough time to eat at the Market Place.”
Last year, Aramark’s meal plans allowed for students to use “meal swipes” at on campus restaurants like Chick-Fil-A and Taco Bell. Whatever the meal equivalent price didn’t equal out to, students had advantage dollars to fall back on. This basic seven days a week all access meal plan cost $1,675 a semester with 100 of that in advantage dollars. However, students in focus groups complained it wasn’t truly “all access” due to the Marketplace not having many food options at certain times in the day.
The other Aramark meal plan was for five days a week with $400 in advantage dollars a semester at the same price. Aramark also offered two small “block plans” with Block 160 offering students 160 meals a semester with 200 advantage dollars and Great 8 offering 8 meals a week with 400 advantage dollars. Both plans cost students $1,283 a semester.
This year, the cheapest meal plan students can buy with Sodexo, the Anytime 7 Day Silver Meal Plan, is the same price as Aramark’s seven and five day plans at $1,675 a semester, but students report that there are more options at all hours of the day than there were last year. This plan averages out to $15 a day and also includes $100 in advantage dollars and four guest meal passes, according to the ETSU campus dining website.
The other two large meal plans Sodexo offers are the Anytime 7 Day Gold Meal Plan, at $1,775 a semester with eight guest passes and 200 advantage dollars, and the Anytime 7 Day Platinum Meal Plan, at $1,975 with 10 guest meal passes and 400 advantage dollars. The campus dining website lists the platinum meal plan as the best value. Freshmen are automatically enrolled in the silver meal plan but have the option to upgrade.
Sophomore Makayla Morris has seen an increase in prices and believes the meal plan isn’t worth it since the only part of the meal plan students are allowed to use outside of the Marketplace and Treehouse is the advantage dollars.
“I don’t think that the meal prices should have risen, because meal swipes can’t be used in the Atrium anymore,” Morris said. “You have to either use I.D. bucks, dining dollars or your own personal money. The food services in the Atrium is the whole reason I got a meal plan.”