"We need more options, and we need to be able to get better food because right now there’s not much to choose from,” said second-year biology student Jess Neufeld concerning where he is able to use his onecard to purchase food. He is currently living in Glacier Hall.
The onecard allows students to use their U of C identification card as a quick and easy way to pay for food on campus, access transit and pay for printing in the library. However, students are unable to use the onecard at all U of C food vendors.
In the summer of 2011, a program initiated by Residence Ancillary Services and the previous Student Legislative Council aimed to improve food access for students. A portion of the existing meal plan funds of approximately $1,000,000 were taken to be used in a new account called food funds, said ras business manager Trevor Rempel.
Part of this program was to allow the onecard to have more access accross campus by September 2012.
However, a plan of action has not been agreed upon, and discussions will continue concerning the fees that vendors will have to pay to be a part of the onecard program.
One of the proposals brought forward by the su was placing a service fee on vendors, however, negotiations for this fee are still underway. Another proposal was to include onecard use in vendors’ lease agreements, which was also denied.
“We talked with the Students’ Union last summer and throughout the last academic year and again this spring with the new council. We’ve been working on trying to bring more of the vendors within MacHall [on board], because that is a desirable group of vendors that students would love access to with their onecards,” said Rempel. “We’re trying to make the meal plan a great service that students enjoy using.”
Residence meal plans, the Dining Centre, Chartwells, Tim Hortons and Pizza 73 are already part of the program. In the last year, other vendors like Fuel for Gold, the U of C Bookstore, Starbucks and Good Earth locations on campus have also been added. Off-campus options are currently being looked at.
“It’s not as convenient as it could be. If we could be able to go to La Prep, or any other place to get food with our onecards other than the [Dining Centre], it would just be easier,” said Neufeld. “The [Dining Centre] gets really old, really quick.”
If vendors become part of the onecard program, they will have to pay a service fee, as well as a rental fee for onecard equipment. According to Rempel, this has made some of the vendors hesitant to join.
“This would give students way more choice. The vendors have been a bit reluctant, and what we want to emphasize is that it’s easy and there’s money that can be accessed,” said Rempel. “It’s unfortunate that the gap in the card program is in the middle of campus at MacHall and we haven’t been able to agree on all the fine details or have everyone join the program.”
Canadian Sports Centre director of marketing and sponsorship David Haughton, who manages Fuel for Gold, said being part of the program is convenient for customers who use the onecard.
“I can’t see why [a vendor] wouldn’t want to be a part of the program, other than the fact that they have to pay fees, but it is a convenience. Being part of a food kiosk, you want to be as convenient as possible so you can cater to more people,” he said
According to su vice-president student life Hayley Wade, the expansion program would have been beneficial to students living in residence, as they are the primary onecard users. She hopes that future negotiations can ease the process for expanded onecard use.
“Ideally, the onecard will still be accepted in MacHall at some point, but it’s not looking realistic for this fall,” said Wade. “Many students really expressed a strong interest in this plan, and in having this program expand. Because we are unable to implement the program at this time doesn’t mean we will not be able to in the future.”
Wade said the onecard program is a great service for students and talks about making it more accessible will be ongoing.