News Date: 
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Source: The Red & Black

Savannah Peat @SavannahPeat

The dining halls at the University of Georgia will be feeding more mouths this semester than ever before.

As of Aug. 15, over 10,000 students have enrolled in some form of a UGA meal plan, either the five-day, seven-day or commuter plan, according to Robert Holden, the associate vice president of Auxiliary Services at the university.

The record-breaking number surpasses the 8,400 students on meal plan last fall semester and breaks the previous record of over 9,600 students set in the spring 2016 semester, Holden said.

To accommodate the large amount of students eating on campus, both in the dining halls and not, Holden said UGA Food Services has "made several additions and enhancements," most notably with the increase of outside vendors coming onto campus.

As Bryan Varin, the interim executive director of UGA Food Services, said in a previous Red & Black article, the expansion followed a 20 percent increase in retail sales on campus in the past year and that the introduction of the Paw Points program played a major role in bringing in outside vendors. Varin also said Food Services wants to avoid overcrowding in the dining halls.

Some of the outside vendors opening on campus include Panda Express in the Bulldog Café, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee in the Science Learning Center as well as Starbucks Coffee in the Tate Student Center. Holden said students will be able to use "flex dollars," part of the meal plans, at these locations.

"The additional flexibility gives students more freedom to eat with their friends or grab something quick on their way to class," he said.

Holden also attributes the high number of meal plan participants to the recent renovations in some of the dining halls, including the addition of Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machines.

“When I went to [the Oglethorpe Dining Commons], it looked really nice, new and shiny,” said Kayleigh Farragut, a sophomore from Atlanta. “They have about four Freestyle machines, which of course gives you a lot more options.”

Holden said many of the changes made were based on student feedback from last year, and that he and the department hopes students will react positively.