Excitement: Aramark adds three new meal plans

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By Brendan Luke

Devotee of Texas-shaped waffles

Advised by Napkin Notes, Aramark will add three new meal plan options for the coming school year.  - Photo by Elizabeth Kerin
Advised by Napkin Notes, Aramark will add three new meal plan options for the coming school year.
– Photo by Elizabeth Kerin

In a bold move, Aramark executives have decided to abolish the seven-meal plan. The plan, which they have offered since 2013 as the only alternative to the all-access plan, was removed for primarily financial reasons, said a local official who declined to give his name. Student feedback was considered, along with logistical and budgeting factors.

To replace the gaping hole left by the absence of the beloved seven-meal option, which saved students around $2,000 per semester, Aramark will be introducing three new meal plans in the fall of 2015: the All-Access Plan Plus, the All-Access Plan Premium, and the Super Duper All-Access Deluxe Diamond Plan. The Plus Plan, in addition to providing full and unrestricted access to the cafeteria and Rathskellar, will include a guaranteed, always fully-stocked crate of bananas available to all those on the plan. The Premium Plan, which an Aramark representative plugged as a “gluten-friendly” option, features an unprecedented guarantee that food advertised as gluten-free in the cafeteria will actually be free of gluten. Additionally, items advertised as “vegetarian” will no longer occasionally contain bacon. Of course, living up to its hype, the Super Duper Deluxe Diamond Plan will feature a slew of benefits as long as its name, including real eggs in omelets and real butter on grilled cheese sandwiches instead of PAM cooking spray. Deluxe Plan subscribers will also have Juan on call to make all of their sandwiches, and will be able to cut to the front of the 12:00 p.m. lunch line. The cost of the All-Access Plan will remain the same, with costs increasing with the level of access. The cost of the Super Duper Deluxe Diamond Plan will be roughly the equivalent of a full semester’s tuition at the University of Dallas.

As students at the University of Dallas with stomachs, these new changes should excite all of us. This student, at least, has always felt the All-Access Plan to be woefully insufficient. As a frequenter of the cafeteria, I have often walked down the line at 7:00 p.m., past the steaming piles of food behind the polished glass barriers, past the salad bar bristling with accessory vegetables and dressings, past the piles of burger patties and chicken breasts and Curtis waving from the grill, and felt a growing sense of ennui gnawing, rumbling deep within my abdomen as I thought, “Is this it?” Alexander the Great must have felt so as he surveyed his empire, walking from the Adriatic to the Indus River and gazing upon the ruins of defeated Persia.

Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The naysayers who cling to the lower cost of the seven-meal plan, the official said, are few in number.

“Anyways, those people will probably move into the apartments by next semester,” he added.

I stand with this local official, although a part of me thinks these changes are a terrible idea. Ever since they changed out the Texas-shaped waffle iron for the regular waffle iron, I just cannot shake the growing sense that Aramark, somehow, is headed downhill. And they polish those glass things over the food too much. A few days ago, I reached out to get a plate of food, and I hit my hand on the glass. I felt like a bird flying into a window. And another thing — it still remains to be seen whether or not Aramark actually takes the Napkin Notes into consideration. I, for one, have written hundreds, and the hash browns are still as desiccated as the mummy of King Tut, at least at 8:45 a.m. In addition, there are no signs to indicate whether the pudding of the day is banana or vanilla. This is an issue of paramount importance for those of us who despise banana-flavored pudding.

It is clear that Aramark needs to make some major changes in the future. Luckily, the official said that those changes are in the works. The Texas-shaped waffle iron may not be returned within the next year, but he emphasized that the new meal plan options should address the majority of student concerns.

“The Napkin Notes are our primary means of obtaining student feedback, and this innovation in the way meal plans are done at the University of Dallas seems the obvious move for us going forward,” he said. Of course, only time will tell whether the changes that need to be made will be implemented. In the meantime, we can all look forward to having something even better than “all-access” next year.

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