Meal plan explansion talks stalled
By Dave Yasvinski
Plans to bring The Spoke and the Wave under the campus meal plan continue to be on hold after negotiations between the University Students' Council and housing and food services broke down over the summer.
Frank Miller, director of food services, said they were not making any progress during the summer negotiations, but he is anxious to start talking again with USC president Ian Armour.
Miller explained one of the problems with expanding meal plan coverage is with the new residence opening next September, the technology used for the meal cards would have to be expanded. "We are always open for partnerships, the difficulty is we could be at the saturation point with the technology."
Miller said he could not see the USC-owned bars joining the meal plan this year, but if it were to happen, he would prefer the Wave joining over The Spoke. "The Wave has more of a different meal that doesn't impact business at the CentreSpot."
General manager of the USC, Jim Walden, said the negotiations are dead in the water because the USC cannot afford it. Every time the USC met with food services over the summer they kept asking for more and more, Walden said. "It gives the impression that they are not negotiating in good faith."
The last deal they received from food services would allow the Wave on the meal plan, in exchange for food services taking sole control of a 2,000 square foot area at the lower end of CentreSpot.
"My feeling is that they're not overly in favour of having us on the meal plan because of competitive aspects," Walden said.
USC president Ian Armour said bringing these establishments under the meal plan is something he has always wanted to do, as he included it among his campaign promises. He said the USC could have the meal plan tomorrow, if they were willing to pay 15 per cent of sales to food services, which would require a 15 per cent hike in food prices.
"I said I would pursue it and we pursued it. The response was far from the terms we laid out as acceptable," he said.
Armour added he was still interested in making a deal, but said he was not as optimistic as he once was. "It all comes down to the bottom line of what are we giving up to get something that's just a campaign promise."
Mark Wellington, manager of the Wave, said they are very interested in seeing the meal plan implemented. "A lot of residence students are interested in having the meal plan here. The problem is reaching an agreement with food services."
Mark Serre, manager of The Spoke, said he would not have a problem with joining the meal plan, as long as it would not affect prices. If it changes the pricing of our menu, I would say more students would say 'keep us off the meal plan.'"
Walden said the USC is exploring other alternatives for a better deal.