LISTER MEAL PLAN & UNIVERSITY GOVERNANCE

 

The University of Alberta has a mandate to provide a meal plan that is focused on providing healthy, nutritious, and well-balanced meals—to support students’ adjustment to university life.

Why are Meal Plans Mandatory?

Lister Residence and Peter Lougheed Hall include mandatory meal plans because it is a crucial part of ensuring that students receive well-rounded nutritious meals, as they work through the often challenging transition into university. As a key piece of residence programming, the meal program facilitates community building and engagement opportunities, and allows students to take a break from their studies and connect with their peers.

Certain residences on campus were purpose-built to include this important element of residence life, and therefore the kitchen facilities were not built to accommodate full-time cooking. Food security is a growing issue on campus, and in order for the meal program to be predictable (fixed cost) and non-taxable, it is included as part of a room and board program within residence.
 

Student Feedback on Lister Meal Plan

We are working on changes to our meal plan model in response to feedback as received through our annual student satisfaction survey in regards to the prices, lack of variety, and need for more healthy and fresh options. Historically, many students have selected the lowest declining balance meal plan level and often run out of money early in the second term—resulting in students having to add funds, shop for groceries, or do without meals at all.

The most common challenges that Lister students report with their meal plan are:

  • Running out of meal plan funds before the end of the term
  • Lack of value, quality, and variety
  • Lack of nutritional menu options
  • Too few options for students with dietary restrictions
  • Lack of “price certainty” upon arrival (ie: ability to accurately budget for academic year)
  • ​Spending more money over and above meal plan funds on groceries and additional food items

Addressing Student Feedback

The University of Alberta has been consulting with residents and stakeholders and reviewing peer institution meal plan data since 2014. Consultation has included: focus groups, site visits to peer institutions with varying dining models, committee meetings, town hall sessions with student leaders and residents, evaluation of student feedback regarding their dining experience, and more.

In 2017, the Lister Student Engagement Working Group was formed and tasked with reviewing and advising on community consultation schedule and formats, with particular focus on attracting students at large to engagement sessions on the meal plan. The working group is guided by the University of Alberta Student Participation Process Handbook developed jointly by the Students’ Union, the Graduate Students’ Association, and the University of Alberta.  

In response to student feedback, the proposed meal plan for 2018-19 has already undergone several important changes, including: adding a second level to accommodate varying student needs, adding more dining locations, incorporating MealPlanFlex funds for use at other campus retail outlets, and increasing hours of operation at the Lister Market.

See the infographic below for a brief summary of changes to the plan since 2014.

Join the Consultation!

As the University of Alberta continues to finalize operational details for the 2018-19 Lister meal plan, student consultation will be ongoing. We need your help to ensure that we offer the best possible plan for Lister residents. Open House sessions took place on October 25 and 26, 2017 from 5:00-8:00pm in the Lister dining hall (the Caf). Residents were able to see the details of the plan, view renderings of the Lister servery upgrades, signed up for focus groups, and asked questions about the meal plan.

Starting in January 2018 students are invited to participate in focus groups, guided by the results of the survey that followed the Open Houses, drafted in collaboration with the Student Engagement Working Group, which collected student feedback on the plan. Students that sign up for a focus group will get a free meal at Peter Lougheed Hall!

Can’t make the Open House?

If you can’t attend any of the focus groups, please view details about the 2018-19 Lister Meal Plan here. You can still email us at dining@ualberta.ca and give us your important feedback. Remember, students that sign up for a focus group will get a free meal at Peter Lougheed Hall!

Governance Process

All non-academic fees are approved by the University’s Board of Governors, including the meal plan rates for Lister Residence. Below is a summary of Board of Governor decisions to date regarding the Lister Meal Plan. The final decision regarding the 2018-19 Lister meal plan will be made by the Board of Governors at their meeting on March 16, 2018.

UPDATES

Open House sessions took place on October 25 and 26, 2017 from 5:00-8:00pm in the Lister dining hall (the Caf). Residents were able to see the details of the plan, view renderings of the Lister servery upgrades, signed up for focus groups, and asked questions about the meal plan. Focus groups will be held in January 2018 as the consultation process continues.

The Lister Student Engagement Working Group was formed and tasked with reviewing and advising on community consultation schedule and formats, with particular focus on attracting students at large to engagement sessions on the meal plan. The working group is guided by the University of Alberta Student Participation Process Handbook developed jointly by the Students’ Union, the Graduate Students’ Association, and the University of Alberta.

Information about the new Lister Meal Plan model for the 2018-19 academic term will be shared in Fall 2017. Consultation and governance schedules will be posted here and in the Lister Residence Newsletter.

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.

An adjusted Declining Balance rate structure was endorsed by the Board Finance and Property Committee for the 2017-2018 academic year. The 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.

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 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.

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. Final approval of the meal plan proposal will be decided at the December 16 Board of Governor's meeting.

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.

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.

 

 

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK!

Can't Attend an Open House?
View the Draft Plan

Interested in a Focus Group?
Sign up here!

QUESTIONS?

Please contact Dining Services if you have questions about the consultation schedule or the 2018-19 Lister Meal Plan.

Dining Services
E-mail: dining@ualberta.ca

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