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Costs keep Fresh Food Closed on weekends

Jennie Kushner

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Labor costs keep Bama Dining’s Fresh Food Company closed on weekends, said Kelsey Faust, director of marketing for Bama Dining.

Despite the increased enrollment, which correlates with an increase in money, the company sees the additional fees as unnecessary.

“Fresh Food is in the middle of the campus and is not surrounded by residence halls like Burke and Lakeside,” Faust said.  “Therefore, students that wish to eat on the weekends can conveniently visit the location closest to their residence hall.”

All dining halls except Fresh Fresh Company are open seven days a week, and Faust said this adequately meets the demands for weekend dining.

“Due to low participation during the weekends at our dining halls, the current schedule more than sufficiently meets the demand for weekend meals,” she said.

Ferguson Center eateries like Subway and Starbucks are open on the weekends.

Alexandra Morse, a freshman communications major, lives in Julia Tutwiler Hall and said she doesn’t understand why Starbucks and Subway is open on the weekends but not Fresh Food Company.

“If I am going to walk from my dorm to the Ferg, I would like to have the same choices that I have during the week,” Morse said. “It doesn’t make sense for them not to open Fresh Food but open the rest of the dining halls.”

Bama Dining employs 30 to 60 weekend employees, compared to 40 to 85 on the weekdays.

“Thirty five hundred to 4,000 students eat at [Lakeside and Burke] on a normal weekend compared to 5,800 to 6,200 on any given two days during the week with Fresh Food Company being opened but not included in the number,” said Derrick Seay, food service director.

Clay Allen, a freshman whose major is undecided, said he understands why Bama Dining doesn’t open Fresh Foods.

“On the weekends, students are scattered everywhere whether it is out of town, hanging out with friends off campus or with their fraternity or sorority members,” he said. “A lot of people aren’t looking to dine on campus on the weekends so it would be pointless for Fresh Foods to open and have all that food go to waste.”

Bama Dining feeds anywhere from 21,000 to 26,000 people Monday through Friday. Dining halls and on-campus restaurants match prices of off campus eateries, Faust said.

“Our door rate for any meal period is very competitive to any all-you-can-eat restaurant and our rate includes your drink,” she said.  “Nine dollars for an all-you-care-to-eat meal is a comparable price to an off-campus all-you-care-to-eat retail restaurants like Golden Corral. In fact, many all-you-care-to-eat restaurants charge more than $9 and that doesn’t include the customer’s drink. “

Student meal plans offer discounted prices per meal, Faust said.

“When a student has a meal plan they do not actually pay $9 per meal,” she said. “If a student has the Silver 160 meal plan they pay about $7.95 per meal.”

Some of the fast food chains in the Ferguson Center offer higher prices than their off-campus counterparts. A combo meal at a Chick-fil-A off campus is around $5.50. The same meal on campus is around $7.

The higher price of a combo meal at the Chick-fil-A in the Ferguson Center is not Bama Dining’s fault, said Brent Davidson, Bama Dining retail director.

“Our Chick-fil-A prices are actually mandated by Chick-fil-A’s corporate offices,” Davidson said. “Bama Dining does not determine the prices at our Chick-fil-A locations. All Chick-fil-A locations have the same prices locally and nationally.”

Faust said Bama Dining is working to meet the dining needs of students. She said some dining locations have now have extended hours due to student requests.

“We would be more than willing to consider opening all dining halls on the weekend if we find there is a need for us to do so,” Faust said. “In fact, we have made changes to our hours of operation after student requests at our food service committee meetings that are held every month.”

Faust invites any student  with concerns or suggestions to attend the monthly meetings. She can be reached at Faust-Kelsey@aramark.com.

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Costs keep Fresh Food Closed on weekends