University announces updates to dining policies

Sarah Baldwin, Editor-in-Chief

In an email sent out to the campus community, Vice President for Finance & Administration Eileen Petula announced a number of updates to the University’s dining policies in response to student and community member concerns. Since the University’s July decision to change the cost of their meal plans, students, faculty and staff have responded in a variety of ways, all requesting the administration to make alterations to what they perceive as unfavorable dining policies. This semester alone has seen the creation of the popular @bucknellexplain Instagram account – which aggregates anonymous student testimonials on food insecurity – the formation of the Operation HUnGER program to provide grocery store gift cards to students in need, implementation of a Food and Nutrition Task Force and a ‘Bread Line’ protest outside of Freas Admissions Hall. 

In response to countless requests, the University will be implementing a swipe rollover policy for dining swipes, which will allow unused meal swipes to roll over each week beginning on Oct. 19. These swipes will be available until the last day of finals on Dec. 7; however, swipes cannot be rolled over from semester to semester. The policy will remain in place for the spring semester.

Additionally, even before the change in meal price, students had been asking for the creation of a “swipe donation fund” into which they could donate unused meal swipes for other University members running low on swipes. Petula announced that swipes will be able to be donated to those demonstrating financial need come the spring semester, though doing so is not possible this fall “due to the time needed to adjust business processes.”

In addition to these policy modifications, the University is updating its menu and hours of operation across campus dining locations. These changes include made-to-order salads and grab-and-go options at the MacDonald Commons, increasing the availability of pizza at Bostwick Marketplace to every weekday, a wider variety of protein choices in all locations, more fresh produce options and a small collection of non-perishable groceries at Seventh Street Cafe. Additionally, the MacDonald Commons will now be open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, while Dining Dollars and meal swipes will be accepted at the Flying Bison to receive a bagged breakfast or lunch.

The University has also created a new GET mobile and web application for students. Within the application, students can add view their account balance, add Dining Dollars to their account and use their cell phones to purchase food at on-campus venues.

Julian Ricketson ’21, an organizer for Operation HUnGER, is pleased that the swipe rollover and donation policies are being implemented, though he wishes the University would make a greater attempt for donations to occur this semester. “I’m curious as to why Seventh Street Cafe’s non-perishables are not in the B-Eats pantry and are instead being sold for profit, though. Also, the Honest Eats food station in Bostwick should exist in other dining locations,” he added. “I am glad the University is making strides toward a system that is somewhat normal to last year’s — which had its own problems — and listening to feedback, but I would also encourage people to think critically instead of simply celebrating being provided bare minimum services.”

Bethany Johnson ’21, co-runner of the @bucknellexplain Instagram account, echoed these sentiments. “I am relieved to hear about the new dining changes. Although I believe the fight is far from over, I can say that these changes are definitely a step in the right direction as this response consists of actual changes and real action. I’m especially pleased to hear about meal swipes rolling over until the end of the semester as well as dining hours being expanded,” she said. “However, Bucknell has still failed to address the quality of the food — students finding bugs, plastic and other absurd objects in their food as well as mold, undercooked meat, old salad and more being served to students. It would be really helpful to hear what efforts Bucknell has made to eliminate this problem as students are paying at least $1400 to eat.”

A feedback form is now available on the Dining Services website, which those with a valid University email account can fill out to express their concerns.

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