Proposed Changes to the Lister Residence Meal Plan
Drawing on objectives and strategies laid down in For the Public Good, University of Alberta residences are focusing on the delivery of programs and services that promote opportunities for engagement and achievement, by driving overall student satisfaction that results in the development of enduring relationships with each other and their Alma Mater.
The Lister Residence meal plan is mandatory and is important to ensuring:
- that students (primarily first-years) receive well-rounded nutritious meals
- the program facilitates community building and engagement opportunities
- allows students to take a break from their studies and connect with their peers
The University of Alberta has been engaged in research and consultation since 2014 and recommends changing the Lister Residence meal plan from a Declining Balance model to an Anytime Dining model, for implementation in Fall 2017.
Update - March 17, 2017
On March 17 the Board of Governors approved the 2017-2018 transition period meal plan that was recommended by the Board Finance and Property Committee in February. The transition rate structure gives students a choice to pay either $4,782 or $4,317. The adjusted model includes $900 flex dollars that can be spent outside of Lister dining hall.
The transition year will allow Dining Services to continue engaging key stakeholders, plan for extended meal services in CAB, and schedule necessary updates to accommodate 460 students in Lister Residence Tower 5, in support of implementing the Anytime Dining meal program in September 2018. Administration will return to the Board of Governors in Fall 2017 to seek approval for a proposed rate structure for 2018-2019.
Update - February 28, 2017
An adjusted Declining Balance rate structure was endorsed by the Board Finance and Property Committee for the 2017-2018 academic year. The transition rate structure was supported by the Students' Union and gives students a choice to pay either $4,782 or $4,317. The adjusted model includes $900 flex dollars that can be spent outside of the Lister dining hall. Final approval of the meal plan proposal will be decided at the March 17 Board of Governor's meeting.
Update - December 21, 2016
On December 16, with a tie vote of (7-7), the Board of Governors did not approve revised meal plan fees that had been recommended by the Board Finance and Property Committee earlier in December. The revised Anytime Dining model aimed to strike a balance between flexibility and cost, but the board required further operational details regarding accessibility of meal pickup locations. A meal plan rate must be approved for fall 2017, which will require a special Board of Governor's meeting in the new year.
Update - December 15, 2016
A revised, two-tiered proposal was endorsed by the Board Finance and Property Committee with a 6-2 vote (December 13, 2016). The updated model gives students a choice to pay either $4,650 a year for unlimited meal access seven days a week, or $4,285 for five days of access. The revised model also includes $400 flex dollars in the 7 day plan, and $300 flex dollars in the 5 day plan. For more information, you may view a summary of the changes that have been made to this version of the plan since it was first proposed in September. Final approval of the meal plan proposal will be decided at the December 16 Board of Governor's meeting.
Update - November 24, 2016
The proposal was rejected by the Board Finance and Property Committee
with a 4-5 vote (November 21, 2016). The university’s Ancillary Services unit will review all possible options before returning to a future Board Finance and Property Committee with an updated meal plan fee proposal, in keeping with the university’s 2017-18 budgeting process. One of those options could include the status quo, the declining balance program, with a fee adjustment for the academic year 2017-18.
Longer term, the university will continue to work with our students and food service partner, aramark, on improving food quality, choices and nutrition with a goal of raising overall student satisfaction with dining services.
Update - November 15, 2016
In response to student feedback on the Anytime Dining proposal put forward in September 2016, the meal plan price has been lowered from $4,950 (including $300 mandatory Flex Dollars) to $4,550 (with optional Flex Dollars). Dining Services has also committed to opening the Lister dining hall at 7:00am rather than 7:30am on weekdays, as requested. For more information, you may view a summary of the changes that have been made to the plan since it was first proposed or view our Frequently Asked Questions.
Why the change?
General satisfaction scores among residence students with respect to the University’s food program in Lister Residence, as tested over time, are low compared to other programs in place at other schools, and low compared to other attributes of student life. One of the main priorities of the University of Alberta is to ensure consistent satisfaction with the student experience.
Though considered state-of-the-art at the time of implementation, declining balance programs are now being phased-out at many institutions across the country in favor of an “Anytime Dining” model, due to the following issues with the declining balance model:
- Students run out of money before the end of the term and are required to add funds or do without
- Students have concerns about the total value of the declining balance model
- Students want more nutritional menu options, more variety, and require longer hours of dining operation
- With increasing costs in University generally, students and their families are requesting “price certainty” upon arrival and want assurances that nutritious food will be available the whole time
Historically, many students have selected the lowest declining level and often run out of money early in the second term—resulting in students having to add funds, shop for groceries, or try to prepare their own meals.
- Over the last several years, between 21% and 35% of students in Lister Hall have had to “top up” their account
- 2015-2016, students added $117,000 to the meal plan – an average of $448 per student
- It is not known how much money over and above this is spent on groceries and additional food items
- There is also growing concern that students in these circumstances are resorting to eating low-cost, empty calorie (fast food) foods to make ends meet
Why Anytime Dining?
The Anytime Dining model, as compared to Declining Balance (debit-card style transactions), allows students to select an unlimited number of smaller portions, from an increased number and variety of rotating stations. The model will also provide opportunities for students to socialize and enhance their sense of community and overall satisfaction. Based on feedback from students at schools where these programs are operating, the University of Alberta is confident that introducing this type of program will improve the student dining experience through the following key program details:
- Improved food quality and overall value
- Increased menu variety
- Extended hours of operation
- Option to use the meal plan at the Peter Lougheed Hall location (opening fall 2017)
- Option to pre-order boxed meals
- Price certainty: students and their families will know from the beginning what the year in residence will cost
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the meal plan changes. You may also find the information you are looking for in our Frequently Asked Questions.
All Lister residents are invited to participate in the consultation process by registering questions and comments on our feedback form.
1-047 Lister Centre