Prices for student meal plans will be unchanged for the upcoming 2008-09 academic year, and the UAB Campus Restaurants group is working to devise a plan to enable faculty and staff members to purchase a meal plan.

Lisa Coleman stocks the grab-and-go shelves at The Diner at the Commons on the Green. UAB Campus Restaurants have planned a variety of new meal options geared to faculty and staff, especially in Blazer Cafe.

Faculty and staff members who are not enrolled in classes do not currently have the ability to purchase a meal plan. Leigh Ciarkowski, unit marketing manager for Sodexo Campus Services, says she has spoken with several faculty who have expressed interest in purchasing a meal plan, and says she hopes the option will become available.

“It is something we’re working toward and hope to see in the near future,” she says.

Faculty and staff who eat at any UAB Campus Restaurants establishment do receive a discounted meal with a university ID, and other accommodations are under way.

“We have planned a variety of new meal options geared to faculty and staff, especially in Blazer Café,” Ciarkowski says. “We’re going to offer things like paninis and hot meal options such as macaroni and cheese or turkey and mashed potatoes they can grab and take back to their offices. Those options are open to students, but they’re targeted to faculty and staff.”

Campus Restaurants is offering other benefits to faculty and staff in the 2008-09 academic year. Those include the ability to order take-home Thanksgiving dinners and special holiday desserts, an Easter Day Brunch for family and friends at the Commons and a Professor of the Month honor awarded by students. The recipient of the monthly award receives a gift card good for five meals, and their picture will hang in the Commons.

“We’re trying to give various options to see how people respond,” Ciarkowski says. “Faculty and staff who may not have time to cook at Thanksgiving will be able to go to our Web site, see the take-home menu and order a meal from us. All they will have to do is warm it up. If the demand for things like this is there, it’s something we will continue to do.”

Meal plan, dining fee unchanged for students
Michael Raczynski, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, says he is pleased the meal plan prices and mandatory $225 dining fee will not rise.

“All students living on campus are required to purchase a meal plan and pay the dining fee,” Raczynski says. “In the long run it provides them a cost break because fees are based on last year’s retail prices and students are not charged sales tax.

“For students living off campus or in residence halls with kitchens, the meal plan option provides the opportunity to purchase pre-made meals at a lower cost than purchasing the ingredients and preparing the meal themselves.”

Patrons paying with cash, credit, dining dollars or Blazer Bucks will see a 2 percent increase in retail prices at campus restaurants, but Raczynski says the value at Blazer Café, Commons on the Green, the Diner and Grab and Go locations across campus still compares favorably to area restaurants.

“Most trips to local sandwich shops end up costing between $8 to $10 for just a sandwich and soft drink,” Raczynski says. “Our value actually is better, and the quality and selection of the food is very good. All of our ingredients are fresh, and we have fantastic selections for those who are health-conscious, just looking for standard American food or wanting to explore culinary options at the International Station at the Commons.”

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