Students on campus may be unaware about the meal exchange option Queens has to offer to students with the unlimited meal plan. Many may also be unaware about the changes that the dining venues on campus have implemented this school year.
In addition to 50 Lion’s Dollars, students with the unlimited meal plan are given five meal exchanges a week, which can be used in Starbucks and the Lion’s Den. Each meal exchange covers up to eight dollars. Will Gilchrist, retail manager of the coffee shop (pictured below on left), who has worked at Queens for about one year, said, “A lot of students do not know that the policy has always been in place.”
According to Jeff Brown, director of dining services (pictured below on right), students benefit from the meal exchange option because they are still able to get a meal even if they miss their opportunity to eat at the cafe.
Gilchrist feels the meal exchange option benefits student athletes because even if they miss meal times as a result of practice, they are still able to replace their meal by using a meal exchange.
Due to the price limit of eight dollars, students are limited to certain choices off of the menus. This year, the coffee shop began telling students to pick off a menu of different combinations for their meal replacement- such as a sandwich, pastry and cup of coffee.
Students are given access to most of the food items at the coffee shop, but the only drinks available on the list are a hot coffee or a beverage from the fridge. The menu has existed before this year but was not strongly enforced.
The Lion’s Den has also added a menu for meal exchange use. It has different combinations similar to the meal exchange menu in the coffee shop. With the combination, students get an entree, side and beverage as their meal replacement.
Having limited options is a challenge of the meal exchange policy, but it keeps students from buying random items that are not considered a meal replacement. “We are trying to make it more of a meal exchange and not use of a meal swipe to buy candy bars or water,” said Brown.
Another change students have noticed are the products that the coffee shop sells to the students.
“We went with a new vendor, Jack and Olive,” said Gilchrist. The reason behind switching vendors was to reduce labor and outsource the food instead of making it on-campus. This was an advantageous move for the coffee shop because it is much easier for the new vendor to make and distribute the products versus the coffee shop staff having to make and deliver the products themselves.
According to Gilchrist, this is more beneficial for the students because, “the quality of the food is always consistent.” “We are able to bring in a lot more alternatives that the students are asking for,” said Gilchrist.
Some students are content with the meal exchange policy, but have been affected by the change in vendors. Drew Pollack, junior, expressed his opinion in an email response to questions about the policy. “I am somewhat content with the policy because I am able to get most of what I want,” he said, “but it is frustrating not being able to get what I had become accustomed to getting last year.”
“We have had people voice an opinion on being limited so we are in the process of rethinking the meal exchange for the Lion’s Den,” said Brown.
According to Brown, a customer survey is sent out every semester to receive feedback from students and over the past three years the results have continue to increase. The coffee shop also surveys students every year. “We make all of our decisions determined off of those surveys,” said Gilchrist.
The staff of the dining venues on campus encourage students to provide feedback regarding the meal exchange policy or about any related matter. “I am always available for feedback, both positive and negative so that we can always continue to advance our relationship and satisfaction levels,” said Brown.