Double Meal Swipes at Locke’s

An unlimited meal plan at college sounds like the dream to many young adults. But lately Locke’s Loft, the buffet style and most attended dining facility on campus, has been struggling to record accurate figures of how much food students actually eat and take to-go.

Brian Conway, director of dining services, was asked about the participation rate of students who have a meal plan and eat at Locke’s for their meals.

“But when I went back and looked at the numbers, it was not nearly what I had thought it was or had been experiencing because we know the volume of the students that come in,” Conway said.

Photo by Kaiyun Chen, The Quadrangle
Photo by Kaiyun Chen, The Quadrangle

Conway said that the “no food to-go” policy was not being enforced and therefore not all food consumed was being accounted for.

There is a calculated average for how much every meal swipe costs Gourmet Dining. But many students eat a whole meal and take other food, more substantial than a coffee or banana, out of Locke’s.

“So if only 100 kids eat, well I don’t need to buy so much food for 100 kids. But you know every one of those 100 kids took something to go which means it was kind of like 200 meals,” Conway said.

According to Conway, one reason he does not want to fully enforce the no food to-go policy is because it causes an inconvenience to many students.

“I really just wanted to catch as much food as we can without causing an inconvenience to the students who are either leaving with something that they normally wouldn’t leave with or who are really just trying to get out of there quickly,” Conway said.

Conway says that unlike the “no food to-go” policy, there is not a written policy about second meal swiping.

In order to properly account for the food taken out of Locke’s, Conway originally asked cashiers to swipe students’ IDs if they left with more than a small piece of fruit, cookie or coffee.

“But then it started to snowball into panini pressed sandwiches and cups stacked up with fruit or food, which again I don’t care, but I need some sort of record of it,” Conway said.

After students started taking larger food items out of Locke’s, Conway asked cashiers to try and swipe all student IDs so that he could have a more accurate picture of Locke’s financial needs.

“Once I was swiped for a second time because of a banana or a cup of coffee,” Chris Lakes, a sophomore computer engineering major, said.

“If they have any suspicion that you have something in a cup they will meal swipe you again, which is annoying,” Lakes said.

Students who are having a hard time with the second meal swipes are residents with the Overlook Manor meal plan.

The meal plan for Overlook Manor residents allots four meal swipes at Locke’s Loft per week. But the new swiping policy for food to-go is taking away a swipe worth an entire meal.

“Being limited to four swipes is already ridiculous. It’s not even one for every business day let alone one for every day of the week. Now they want to take another whole swipe for a cup of coffee, and that is completely ridiculous,” student James Foy said.

Conway said that his original plan to swipe for food taken out of Locke’s did not take the OV meal plan into account.

“I’m up for any kind of suggestion on how we don’t penalize the OV kids the same way you wouldn’t really be penalizing the unlimited kids. The problem is if you don’t do it to the OV kids and then they start taking sandwiches and things to go,” Conway said.

Conway is open to suggestions regarding how this issue should be treated and he has been meeting with MC’s student government to try and accommodate OV residents.

“I’m sure they could program the register for the cashiers to hit a button and still count the food if it’s an OV kid,” Ronald Contreras, a junior electrical engineering major, said.

Conway said that properly recording the number of meals and food consumed from Locke’s is beneficial to everyone involved.

“It will give us more opportunities for programs and events with money because all we need is money and that’s really what the driving force is,” Conway said.