By Jeff Murphy, May 7, 2019
WARRENSBURG, MO – With a new dining services contract approved with Sodexo effective July 1, 2019, the University of Central Missouri will optimize opportunities to provide students with quality and efficient food service through expanded offerings, healthy choices, and extended hours at two dining locations while taking one dining center off line. The changes that are effective for the 2019-2020 academic year are being announced with the recent approval of room and board rates by the university’s governing board.
Considering variables that affect the cost of providing quality dining and housing accommodations, the Board of Governors in April approved a recommendation to increase room and board, which combined will result in a 2.24 percent annual increase or total of $196. With the increase, UCM continues to be among the most affordable institutions in the state for room and board. This is based on the cost of a double occupancy room, which will be $2,806 per semester, and the Silver Meal Plan, $1,675, which provides unlimited dining, three guest passes, and $150 in dining dollars per semester.
Students also have the opportunity for a single occupancy room which is $600 more than the double room rate, or they may chose apartment housing options, which will remain at the same monthly rate as 2018-2019. They also may choose a Gold Dining Plan at a cost of $1,775 featuring unlimited residence hall dining, six guest passes, and $300 in dining dollars, or the Platinum Dining Plan at $1,975 with unlimited residence hall dining, eight guest passes, and $500 in dining dollars. The three primary meal plans featuring unlimited dining, guest passes and dining dollars are new this year, and result in students getting more for their money, according to Shari Bax, vice provost for Student Experience and Engagement.
Bax noted that during the contract process, UCM informed bidders that it planned to consolidate three dining halls into two in order to reduce costs. This is because the current volume of meal plans and the number of those projected in the short run would not permit the university to efficiently operate all three dining centers at a reasonable cost. To help maintain affordability for students, the university plans to cease dining operations in Fitzgerald Dining Hall effective for the fall 2019 semester to focus its resources and any future enhancements on Westside Market at Todd Hall and Ellis Hall dining. Fitzgerald Dining Hall has offered allergen-free stations, along with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Sodexo now plans to make all these choices available at the other two dining facilities. Westside Market provides greater dining capacity than Fitzgerald and, together with Ellis Hall, enables the university to meet food service needs with dining centers on the east and west sides of campus.
“We want to improve access to these dining halls,” Bax said, adding that the university is striving to make dining options as convenient as possible. “Both Ellis and Westside Market will expand their hours and be open continuously throughout the day.”
To help accommodate students’ busy schedules, while the university is session, Ellis and Westside Market will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
By expanding hours and being open continuously, the university is maximizing its space to better serve students. They will benefit by having somewhere to go for a meal or snack at times that fit into their schedules, or simply enjoy an extra outlet to relax, meet friends and study between classes and campus events. The university continues to explore options for providing late-night dining operations.