Essentially, it could be said that students can be seen roaming the streets of Bloomsburg any day of the week at any given time. Whether it be traveling from class to class, or going out for a late night snack. It seems that students are the pinnacle interest for businesses in Bloomsburg. Students want in-town businesses to feed their stomachs, and businesses want students to feed their cash register. The problem? The hurdle in the middle known as ‘Aramark.’
It is safe to assume that every student at Bloomsburg University knows what the meal plans are, and how they work. Meal plans enable students to purchase a certain amount of meals on Campus, as well as a certain amount of additional Flex Dollars. Bloomsburg typically offers meal plans consisting of $150-$200 flex per semester.
One meal swipe allows a student into the Scranton Commons, the campus’ main dining facility. The meal swipe allows the student to eat as much as they want, at no additional charge, the set-back? Long times, slow workers, and the anxiety of what is being served that day. One student says “There has been a countless amount of times that I have swiped my card to get into the Commons, to find that I didn’t like any of the food being served. I’d leave and get Taco Bell.”
The other dining halls available on campus will feed you a relatively small amount for a meal swipe, and mandate an extra charge off of your Flex Dollars. The coffee shops on campus, such as Starbucks, do not allow any Meal Swipes, resulting in the frequent customers running out of Flex Dollars relatively quickly.
For many students, eating on campus is an inconvenience because they may not live near campus, or simply because they just don’t like the food being served. This leads students to consistently empty their pockets so that they can indulge in the tastier snacks that downtown Bloomsburg has to offer. Eventually, students are left with no more money to give hence, there is no more business left to give.
Prior to Christmas Break, B&C Café located nexted to Uni-Mart on 411 LightStreet Rd. organized a petition so that students could use their flex dollars at local shops. The petition has already received several hundred signatures. They are aiming to receive as many names as they can within the next couple of weeks, and will be contacting the President of the University at the end of February. Both Beverly and Charlie Baker own this business, and strongly believe that allowing use of Flex-Dollars off campus would be highly beneficial.
“During the week-days, businesses around here become relatively dead due to students being tied to their on-campus meal-plans,” Beverly said. “The people in town don’t typically come our way; they stay down by Main Street. Students are what make our business.”
Charlie goes on to explain that Bloomsburg University is one of the only schools in Pennsylvania that does not allow Flex to be used off-campus. “It’s a shame because so many students come into our business trying to use Flex, and they can’t. The food places on campus have a very limited menu, and aren’t open as late. We’re open until 4:00 a.m.” He also stresses that this cause is not just to benefit his business, but all of the local shops in Downtown Bloomsburg.
It seems that many students and business owners would be in favor of this change. The problem sets in because Aramark being Bloomsburg University’s leading food-server would lose money. If availability of Flex usage expands, naturally the amount of students that go to Husky and such will decrease. This leads some to question – Why is Aramark so anxious? Are they that insecure about the food that they serve? Aramark’s fear of competition among other food businesses has been sparked the interest of many.
Many believe that the University should help support the town; in the same way the town supports the University and its students. Those living on campus, will still go to University’s dining facilities. Students pay several thousand in tuition every semester, so many feel that it is immoral for the school to dictate what meals plan they can buy, and where their meal plans allow them to eat. It only makes for a more controversial issue when students don’t use all their flex, and then Aramark is able to keep the money despite the lack of purchases made. Ultimately, people are left questioning if it’s moral for Aramark to hoard this money, and leave other local businesses suffering. Has Aramark, in some form, become a monopoly? You decide.
Agree with the cause?
Go to B&C Café and sign the petition; and spread the word on Facebook.