Auxiliary Services News

June 24, 2014

CRI Deck 1 and South Village Deck have both received a 2014 Award of Merit in the International Parking Association Awards of Excellence Competition. This is an International competition open to entries from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and South America.

CRI Deck 1

CRI Deck1 has 1,347 parking spaces and provides parking near academic and research buildings on the west side of campus for students, faculty and visitors. Additionally, CRI Deck 1 provides parking for events at Jerry Richardson Stadium and connects to that facility with an attractively landscaped connecting pedestrian walkway. The seven-level deck was designed with induction lighting, white stained ceilings, integrated bicycle lockers, RFID operated gates, visitor parking with two pay-on-foot kiosks, and a large bus pull-off area.

CRI Deck 1 is rectangular in shape and utilizes a cast-in-place concrete structure with precast exterior designed to match the University’s signature ‘Morrocroft Red’ brick. It was planned with future use in mind, too. The deck is pre-wired to accommodate electric vehicle chargers and will be ready to serve a proposed conference center.

photo of CRI Deck 1

South Village Deck

South Village Parking Deck is an integral part of a major residential redevelopment. With a capacity of 1,247 vehicles, the deck serves over 2,000 students who live in nearby residence halls, along with faculty, staff and visitors. The deck was designed with automated vehicle identification (AVI) for contract parking as well as pay-on-foot and pay-in-lane for visitor parking. The cast-in-place structure requires little active maintenance and is also designed with a precast exterior to match the University’s brick standard. Features include, high-performance concrete, induction lighting, white stained ceilings, waterproofing systems, wash-down water supply and bicycle lockers. South Village Deck is also prewired to accommodate electric vehicle chargers in the future. The deck’s four-bay design provides efficiency and operational flexibility with smooth traffic flow for entrance and exit. South Village Deck has a continuous single-run staircase oriented towards the residential village. It feels grand and open but more importantly, creates a safer environment for pedestrians.

photo of South Village Deck

June 18, 2014

Photo of South Village Deck

It's that time of year when incoming students suffer shock when they find out the cost of a parking permit at UNC Charlotte. It's true, permits are expensive!

If there's any good news about permit prices, it's this: for academic year 2014-2015 there was no increase. It's been years since that's happened.

So, why does it cost so much to park on campus?

  • State funding is not used to pay for parking facilities;
  • Tuition dollars do not supplement parking;
  • Collected citation fines cannot supplement construction or maintenance of parking facilities;
  • Therefore, parking has to be self-supporting which is done through the sale of permits to those who wish to use parking facilities on campus.

What do Permit fees pay for?

Almost all of it goes toward design and construction new parking decks, maintenance and debt service (paying back construction bonds) of existing decks/lots, with a small percentage going toward traffic control staffing and support of the CATS Campus Shuttle.

The primary factor that determines permit price: cost of new deck construction and replacing flat lots with decks.

It’s expensive to design, construct and maintain new parking decks necessary to accommodate enrollment and demand. Existing surface lots make way for new buildings and residence halls; those spaces must be replaced with decks. Decks are far better use of land than paving large swaths of acreage, but they cost a lot more to erect and maintain. In the past 10 years, UNC Charlotte has had to build five of them: East Deck III (2003), Union Deck (2006), North Deck (2011), CRI Deck I (2012), and South Village Deck (2013).

  • Permit prices are determined by how much will be needed to support a ten-year financial plan that will pay for parking that accommodates enrollment increases.
  • Business Services and the University make every effort to keep permit price increases in line with what’s needed to sustain current and planned parking facilities.

Other factors include:

  • loss of parking lots to new building (academic and housing);
  • cost of infrastructure: emergency blue lights, utility lines, cameras, etc.

If these were the only factors considered, rates would actually be much higher. The financial impact on students, faculty and staff is taken into account, too. Prices are kept as low as fiscal responsibility will allow.

Lot versus deck cost breakdown:

Design and contruction costs for surface lots

  • $2,000-$3,000 (per space, depending on land condition)

Design and construction costs for parking decks

  • Up to $14,000 (per space)
  • Maintenance per space per year: typically 3 times the cost to maintain a surface parking space

Are there cheaper on-campus parking alternatives?

YES! There are two discount permit lots available on the margins of campus available to Commuters and Faculty/Staff.

  • Lot 6A (at John Kirk and Cameron) permits are $340 per academic year. This lot is served by the Campus Shuttle Red Line Rt. 50
  • Lot 27 (on Alumni Way near Harris Alumni House) permits are $210 per academic year. This is a walk-in lot not served by the Campus Shuttle; however, a Yellow Line Rt. 47 shuttle stop is about 2/10 mile walk east on Alumni Way near South Village Deck.

For Commuters who have class schedules just two days a week

  • Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday permits are available per semester. Price is $165. Two-day combinations other than M/W T/Th are available also. Just inquire at the Parking and Transportation Services office and a permit for the appropriate days will be created for you.

For more information about parking permits and where each permit allows you to park, see the permit info page. Complete information about parking on the UNC Charlotte can be found in the "Everything About Parking and Transportations Services" guide on our website. You may also benefit by following @unccparking on Twitter. News and changes in parking are posted there and we answer questions, too.

June 11, 2014

As the great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Four years and a bachelor’s degree later I have found this to be absolutely true. One moment I was checking into Wallis Hall for SOAR and the next, listening for my name to walk across that stage.

Now I have begun my graduate school journey at UNC Charlotte and am working as a Marketing Communications Intern for Business and Auxiliary Services. In just the first week I have learned things that I wish I had known as an undergraduate. There were services I missed; little things that would have been good to know! So, please let me spare you this regret. While maybe not as profound as Obi Wan Kenobi bestowing knowledge of the Force upon Luke Skywalker, I do hope you'll find the following tips helpful.

Tip #1. Oh hey, ODA!

I would always see signs and a few things that would mention the term ODA but really had no idea what it meant. ODA means “Optional Dining Account” and it’s like a prepaid account for food. You (or someone who is benevolently subsiding your education) can place a deposit in this account for you to use at any campus dining location. Here's why it's awesome: this is a great account for students who commute and can't bear the thought of giving up their parking space to go get a meal, and for those whose class schedule is such that they eat on campus a just a few times a week. Anything you don't spend from you ODA account rolls over to subsequent semesters, as long as you're enrolled.

ODA is also great for on-campus residents. If/when the declining balance (DB) portion of your meal plan runs out (this happened to me many times) ODA can supplement your meal plan. How cool is that?! You wont' be deprived of enjoying Chick-fil-A, Bojangle's or Salsarita's goodness.  And for deposits of $300 or $500, you’ll receive some free meal swipes good at Crown Commons and the brand new SoVi at South Village Crossing. But wait! There’s more! You will also get GreenBack reward dollars for every $100 you add to ODA. Smaller amounts can be deposited to ODA also, as little as $10.

Tip #2 “Hey Mom and Dad, I am kinda low on…”

What happens when you run out of money when you're down to your last pair of clean underwear or have a 20 page paper to print? That's when the 49er Account is your friend. Money can be deposited on your 49er Account (which, like ODA and your meal plan, resides on the 49er IDCard) to spend like a pre-paid debit account for campus goods and services such as: pay-for-print printers in the library and labs, laundry machines, Barnes & Noble at UNC Charlotte bookstore, vending machines, Campus Salon, NinerTech store, all the dining locations, convenience stores and concessions. 49er Account offers instant online deposits, and is good for budgeting since the account can't be overdrawn, doesn't incur fees and doesn't expire. You can deposit money on your account in increments as small as $5. Your parents/ benevolent supporters can add money to the account, too. All that's needed is your 800 number and last name when they go to make a deposit online. (

Tip #3 -  “Here’s the mail, it never fails…”

Usually during your time at UNC Charlotte moving becomes an annual event. Whether it's from one residence hall to another, from on-campus to on-campus, or off-campus to somewhere else off-campus, your address will change again and again! But did you know that you can maintain a consistent mailing address with a campus mail box from Mail and Package Services? You can! Campus mailboxes are private and conveniently located in either Prospector building or the Student Union. And they're cheap: a 6 Month lease is $25 total; a 12 Month lease is only $46. Even better, here's a coupon for $10 off your first lease.

Tip #4 - “Take a’s in a book…”

I love books and even more so bookstores. What was that? Oh, what’s a book? Well kids, long ago we needed to read bound papers of information; sometimes we even read them for fun! Now that you're in college, you are going to get very acquainted with textbooks. Trust me on this, you'll need them and it will save you a lot of time and angst if you get them before classes start.

Barnes and Noble at UNC Charlotte is the official campus bookstore and located in the Student Union. You can conveniently order your books online, automatically choosing from your class schedule in 49er Express (now The selection of 49er gear is the largest anywhere, so maybe even add some 49er apparel to that virtual sharing cart. One thing about the bookstore that many students don’t know is that Barnes and Noble will 100% price match textbooks to other local retailers. This can add to your savings and makes a convenient central location for you to purchase or rent your books. There are also eBook options.

Tip #5 -  Forward to the Future!

You have so much to look forward to. The campus is growing at a rapid pace and one of the most exciting areas of growth is on the South side where the new South Village Crossing opens this fall. This amazing new dining/gathering complex is going to offer all kinds of food. SoVi dining will feature:

  • an Asian station with a Teppanyaki grill (Japanese-style iron griddle),
  • a Euro station with two Evo grills (round cook tops that offer a healthy cooking method and social interaction with the chef),
  • an Italian area that will serve pasta, pizza and other favorites from two gas-fired ovens,
  • a deli with hearth oven for toasted sandwiches and melts,
  • an extensive salad bar where proteins can be ordered custom made and sizzling hot to top your leafy greens, and
  • more choices than ever available for vegans, vegetarians and those with certain dietary preferences

SoVi will also have plentiful seating, and a seasonal dining terrace that will overlook Davis Lake. On the upper level you'll find:i

  • SoVi2Go - a take-out area where meal swipes can be used for carry-out dining
  • a bakery with visible operations and a confections counter
  • "The Den," a a concept by Denny's with late night service
  • comfortable student lounges with three-sided fireplaces and big TV screens
  • a multi-use meeting/class room with AV

Plan to explore this beautiful new facility no matter where you are on campus! You can get a ride over to South Village on the CATS Campus Shuttle, or later in the evening, SafeRide can transport you there if you don't want to walk. (I'm glad I'm sticking around here for grad school so I can enjoy it!)

So please, future 49ers, know what's available and fully use the services that are provided for you. It's stuff you need that supports the bigger purpose of why you're here: to get an education and prepare for your future.

And, as John Keating said in Dead Poets Society, "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."

– Patrick Wisniewski

Photo of Patrick Wisniewski

Patrick Wisniewski is spending the summer as Marketing Communications Intern for Business Services. After committing to memory every word in the Auxiliary Services Information Guide, he will be developing new media content for the 49erCard and Meal Plans, reprographics, Mail & Package Services, and Parking and Transportation Services.

June 10, 2014

Visitor parking on the top level of Cone Deck is now automated. Fees are paid at a pay-on-foot station instead of to an attendant.

The pay station is located under a shelter on the Visitor parking level. This is the same equipment used for Visitor parking at East Deck I, CRI Deck and South Village Deck. As with all campus pay-on-foot stations, there's an intercom that connects to the Parking and Transportation Call Center should users encounter difficulty or have a question. "We will continue to have a person present to assist patrons for the next few weeks," said Nancy Smith, PaTS Assistant Director.

Photo of pay-on-foot station for visitor parking fees at Cone Deck, top level

Photo: Cone Visitors Deck pay-on-foot station

How pay-on-foot stations work

A “pay-on-foot” station allows visitors to pay their fee and retrieve a validated ticket. To exit, visitors will put the validated ticket into an exit verifier to open the gate. When a visitor enters, the system will release a timed ticket for them to take. Visitors can either pay for their own parking as they leave or a department can supply them with validated parking. Pay-on-foot fee stations do not accept tokens.

Visitors paying for their own parking

  • Payment is made at the pay station as visitors return to their vehicle. Pay station accepts cash (but not coins) and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express)
  • The pay station credits the ticket and allows 10 minutes to return to the vehicle and proceed to the exit lane.
  • When in the exit lane, the visitor will insert their ticket in to the “exit verifier” and the gate will rise.

Department paying for the visitor’s parking

  • The department gives the visitor a validated ticket
  • Visitor does not need to go to the Pay Station; they may proceed directly to their vehicle and place the validated ticket in the “exit verifier”

May 7, 2014

It's Official! The name for the new dining facility at South Village will be South Village Crossing

The name was chosen from several, with the purpose of providing identity to the location.  "It could easily be named the South Village Dining Hall," said Keith Wassum, Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services,  "but for many reasons we didn't think that was appropriate. South Village Dining Hall does not adequately describe the facility... and it's too cafeteria-sounding. We have said that the facility is more than dining, as it also offers late night retail dining, convenience store, bakery, lounges, meeting/video viewing area, terraces and study space."

After consideration of a broad list of names generated by staff and students, three names rose to the top: South Village Crossing, South Village Commons and South Village Center. Opinions offered through comments to Auxiliary Services' social media channels had "Crossing" in the lead. Informal face-to-face surveying of students put "Commons" slightly ahead although where students were when asked made a difference. Those surveyed around the Student Union and Prospector liked "Commons" but those questioned at RDH and by the highrises heavily favored "Crossing." In the end, "Crossing" won out.

When you look at the building, with its long bridges and wooded paths, the name fits well because a crossing is, by definition, - “a. A place at which roads, lines, or tracks intersect; an intersection. b. A place at which a river, railroad, or highway, for example, may be crossed: a railroad crossing; a pedestrian crossing” (The Free Dictionary). South Village Crossing is designed and located to serve not just South campus residents but the entire UNC Charlotte community. It will be a modern, warm, and inviting "place to cross paths."

Artist rendering of South Village Crossing

South Village Crossing is scheduled to open Fall semester, 2014. Read more about this facility here.

April 30, 2014

Zero Waste volunteer pictured by recycle container

Clearwater, Florida – UNC Charlotte’s Zero Waste initiative, a program designed to make Jerry Richardson Stadium a facility that ideally produces no landfill waste, received the National Association of College Auxiliary Services (NACAS) Southern region Outstanding Collaboration and Partnership Award. The award presented at the association’s annual conference, recognizes “unique, innovative or distinctive partnership that benefits the University and the community.”

The Zero Waste Initiative first began as a student effort. All waste from concessions and food products was to be either compostable or recyclable. The objective was quickly embraced by UNC Charlotte Facilities Management/Recycling and gathered steam as more departments joined in support. UNC Charlotte Auxiliary Services, Student Activity Center and Venue Management, and Chartwells, the University’s food service partner, were among the early adopters to commit time, effort and resources toward achieving the goal of a Zero Waste stadium.

An unusual amount of collaboration and cooperation was required from disparate groups: administrators, event facilities operations, athletics, student organizations, dining services, nationally franchised restaurant brands, contracted event staff, and a host of community groups. Getting buy-in that broad is unwieldy at best, but the Zero Waste Initiative attracted wholehearted participation from all stakeholders.

The goals:

  • minimize waste sent to landfills and wastewater systems by diverting biodegradable waste to composting or other landfill deferred systems whenever possible, and
  • maximize recycling efforts with on- and off-campus partners.

This was done through:

  • Alternative packaging, even within national brands, sourced through collaboration with suppliers. Only packaging that was compostable, recyclable or 100% post-consumer was used.* Support and cooperation from companies like Coca-Cola, Bojangle’s, Papa John’s, Below Zero (a third-party specialty food cart contractor) and Georgia Pacific were crucial to the success of this initiative.
  • Minimizing packaging overall. Established business practices were adapted to meet the needs of a Zero Waste football stadium.
  • Adjusting the packaging to eliminate recycling needs and bolster the compostable portion. Alternative supplier products were selected to cut down the amount of non-recyclable and non-compostable items used in the kitchen areas.

Specific positive environmental impact results:

  • Waste for the season was approximately 25 tons but only 17.4% of that was sent to a landfill. The rest, averaging ~82% of waste collected over six games, was sent to recycling (6.92 tons) or diverted to compost (12.99 tons).
  • Overall, 19.91 tons of stadium waste was diverted.
  • All of the approximately 286 gallons of fryer oil used was diverted into a bio-fuel program (Greenlight BioFuels) located less than 30 miles from the venue.

Tangible business benefits

  • Paper cost directly related to the food service program was ultimately reduced.
  • Generated waste was sharply reduced and hauling fees were lower than originally expected.

The NACUS 2014 Regional Outstanding Collaboration and Partnership Award honors the extensive, campus-wide, cross-departmental cooperation with business partners and vendors that resulted in positive, visible, measurable and repeatable success of the Zero Waste initiative.

Green Zone volunteers at Jerry Richardson stadium


Bags of fully compostable waste

Contacts for additional information:

  • Brad Green, Director of Catering and Special Services, Chartwells Higher Ed, UNC Charlotte |  704-687-0698 |
  • Kathy Boutin-Pasterz, Facilities Management – Recycling | 704-687-0604 |
  • Keith Wassum | Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services | 704-687-5747 |

April 22, 2014

For more than four decades, the Residence Dining Hall, RDH, has served as the "kitchen table" to tens of thousands of UNC Charlotte students. That's over forty years of meals shared, events staged, cards played, and memories made.

It had a good run.

Archive photo of RDH and the first two residence halls, Sandford and Moore.

Next week, in honor of all the years of service, special meals are planned at RDH.

Monday, April 28 - Throwback Dinner

Remembering the Charlotte dining scene from the 1970's. Dinner served from 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM (for those not on a meal plan, price is $9.85)

Eastland Mall opened in 1975 with a food court which included the Akropolis
Akropolis Chicken and Falafel Gyro
Cucumber Salad and Paprika Potatoes
Found daily at the RDH was the infamous “Mystery Meat”
Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy
Fried Salt and Pepper Fish
Steamed Rice, Squash Casserole, Southern Green Beans
Cheddar Biscuits
If you wanted pizza in the 70's, Gus' Original 49er was the place to go
Deep Dish Style Pizzas: Pepperoni, Supreme, Veggie, and Cheese
The Penguin was serving up their famous hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream
Chili-Pimento Cheese Dogs
Fried Pickles with Homemade Ranch Dipping Sauce
Farrell’s was a "fabulous fun" soda-shop hang out spot for Charlotteans, and ice cream at Spoons was a huge treat!
Root Beer and Cheerwine Floats

Tuesday, April 29 - Faculty/ Staff Lunch

A tribute to UNC Charlotte Faculty/ Staff for their support of campus dining. Show your Faculty/ Staff ID, pay only $5.00.
Lunch served from 10:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Lasagna Bar
Beef, Chicken Florentine, Vegetable
Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread
BBQ Pork Chops and Spicy Turkey Meatloaf
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Lima Beans with Onions and Tomatoes
Fried Okra, Collard Greens, Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
Deep Dish Style Pizzas
Pepperoni Lover, Supreme, Veggie Lover, Cheese Lover
Horseradish Roast Beef Sandwiches
Sweet Potato Fries
Build Your Own Sandwich
Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, Egg Salad
Southern Style Desserts
Variety of Meringue Pies
Coconut Cake and Banana Pudding
Ice Cream Cups

Wednesday, April 30 - Remember RDH Dinner

Celebrating 40+ years with a special dinner. Live music!* Dinner served from 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM (for those not on a meal plan, price is $9.85)
Shrimp and Grits
Stone Ground Grits and Sauteed Shrimp
cheese, scallions, crispy bacon, fresh pickled jalapenos
corn bread croutons, fresh roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes
Slow Roasted Rotisserie Style Chicken
Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables
Chef Will’s Homemade Mac-n-Cheese
Asparagus, Sweet Corn, Sauteed Kale with Roasted Garlic
Buffalo Chicken and BBQ Roasted Cauliflower
Grilled BBQ Ribs
Baked Beans and Vinegar Slaw
Homemade Soup and Salads
Chilled Strawberry Soup
Texas Caviar, Dijon Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Southern Style Broccoli
Dessert Bar
Mini Parfaits, Cupcakes, Fruit Bars
Banana Fosters and Brownie

Don't miss this chance to say goodbye to RDH. And if you have a fond or funny memory that took place in RDH, please share it! Tweet #RDHstory

* UNC Charlotte's own Brandon Kirkley will share his talent for this special Farewell to RDH dinner. THANK YOU BK!

photo from 1971; courtesy of Atkins Library Archives.

April 16, 2014

Photo of person wear gardening gloves, holding box of freshly picked vegetables

Make plans now to attend the upcoming Homegrown Dinner at Bistro 49. Campus chefs are planning a sumptuous feast in praise of Mother Earth's bountiful goodness, using fresh, locally-raised meats, cheeses, and hand-picked seasonal produce.

Tuesday, April 22

Bistro 49 • 6:00 PM

Four courses • $20 per person

Reservations Required* • BYOW**

“I want this menu to have a Southern, spring time feel," said Chef Brett Milense. "This is a chance to showcase products that are locally grown and highlight products that people may not know are from North Carolina, such as Bison.”

Much of the fare will come from Bradford Farm and Carolina Grown, chosen because they both provide a large variety and high-quality of fresh, local products. Bradford Farm has both an organic growing operation and a store that provides a place for local farms to sell their goods. Carolina Grown is a natural foods cooperative that supports local farmers, ranchers, anglers, bakers, cheese artisans, and vintners with distribution services.

The Homegrown Dinner will be an impressive date night or lovely meal to share with friends or coworkers. And for just $20 per person, the value can't be beat! (DB, ODA or cash - sorry, meal swipes cannot be used for this event)

Here's the menu:

  • First Course: Cheese Plate, Pickled Vegetables
  • Second Course: Cheerwine poached apple salad with walnuts or pecans and sweet corn bread muffins
  • Third Course: NC bison filets with asparagus and beet salad with crawfish or shrimp aioli
  • Fourth Course: Lance cookies and cream ice cream cookies

*Seating is limited. Payment required in advance to hold a reservation. Please stop by Bistro 49 (second level, Student Union) today to reserve your place at this extraordinarily prepared table.

**Bring Your Own Wine for those 21+. Must provide provide proof of age.


It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.

~Lewis Grizzard

March 25, 2014

Dining Services has made arrangements with the Papa John's at 9327 JW Clay Blvd., that allows use of Declining Balance (DB) and Optional Dining Account (ODA) funds for pizza take-out or delivery, during hours when the Papa John's in the Student Activity Center is closed.

Specifically, DB and ODA can be used at the nearest Papa John's during these hours:

  • After 7:00 PM Monday - Thursday
  • All day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

To use DB or ODA, call Papa John’s at 704-503-5032 and, when you place the order, tell them you will pay with DB or ODA.

A couple restrictions:

  • DB/ODA not accepted during hours that the campus Papa John's is open (11:00 AM - 7:00 PM Monday - Thursday);
  • DB and ODA are only accepted at the JW Clay Blvd. Papa John's;
  • 49er Account is not accepted;
  • Please have cash available for delivery tip. Tip cannot be added to your total or paid with DB/ODA funds

So, remember this when your next evening group project meeting, weekend snack attack, or "let's-stay-in-and-watch-a-movie" date comes around.  Order a hot, fresh Papa John's pizza, have it delivered right to you,  pay for it with your  (DB) or (ODA).


Papa John's logo and photo of meat pizza

March 24, 2014

Revamped plan offerings designed for flexibility, value, and the modern student lifestyle

Old photo of students eating in RDH circa 1973

That was then
Back when all on-campus housing comprised four highrise residence buildings, the Residence Dining Hall (RDH) was the only place on campus for hot food three times a day. A meal plan took the form of circles printed on a vinyl sheet that was folded multiple times and affixed to the back of the UNCC ID. Students would unroll the sheet for the cashier to punch. Every hole represented a meal eaten, every skipped-over circle was a meal not used. It was a very simple, low-tech system.

As the University grew, new residence halls were built with multiple living configurations like suites and apartments. Meal plans changed and expanded, too, as did dining options. Favorite national brands were established all over campus: Chick-fil-A, Salsarita’s, Bojangle’s, Subway, Starbucks, Einstein Brothers Bagels, Papa John’s and Wendy’s all have presence at UNC Charlotte. Declining Balance (DB), by itself or as part of a traditional and block meal plan, provided easy, card-swipe access to all the retail choices.

This is now
Crown Commons opened in the Student Union as the new all-you-care-to-eat dining hall in 2009. Its gas-fired pizza oven, made-in-front-of-you cooking stations and ability to apply endless customization to numerous entrees made RDH appear as tired as the linoleum floor in grandma’s kitchen. Equally dated and due for an upgrade were the meal plans UNC Charlotte offered. Plans had become overly complicated and ill suited to the fast-emerging trend of eating several smaller meals during the course of a day. Social meals with friends are now as likely to be for mid-morning coffee or a late evening burger but “traditional” meal plans are modeled on old-fashioned breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Photo of Crown Commons salad station

Time for a change, just in time
UNC Charlotte Business Services in collaboration with dining services partner, Chartwells, spent two years studying meal plans and developing a new model. The goal was to retool meal plans so they would provide:

  • simplicity in purchase,
  • meal flexibility,
  • greater value,
  • be financially sustainable,
  • balance facility use and balance/lessen wait lines.

How 2014-15 Meal Plans measure up
Simplicity – Plans are based on housing assignment and hours earned.

  • Students living in “required housing,” which are residences without private kitchens, require selecting a meal plan as part of the housing contract;
  • There two meal plan choices for first year resident students (freshman/those with 29 or fewer credit hours), four for sophomores, five for juniors, six for seniors.
  • Commuter students may pick any offered plan, regardless of class status.

“Traditional plans” consisting of a number of meal swipes per week are no more. All plans for 2014-15 offer either unlimited swipes or are block plans that have a set number of swipes that may be used at anytime throughout the semester. All plans have either $200 or $300 attached Declining Balance (DB) funds that can be used at any dining facility, including all the national retail brands.

Flexibility – Expanded dining options give more choices for students.
In a few weeks, after four decades of service, RDH will close and South Village will have a new dining facility, one that will, says Bill Bremer, resident district manager for Chartwells Dining Services, “serve students with a 22nd Century program.”

New “unlimited plans” (seven days or five weekdays) allow students to eat smaller meals throughout the day on a frequent basis. No more having to load up on a full meal to get their money’s-worth. Students can stop in for cereal and juice before class, grab a sandwich for lunch, a yogurt at midafternoon, some dinner, and then coffee and dessert later. Meal swipes are truly unlimited throughout service hours, and, at South Village, can be used for meals from a take-out venue.

In addition to flexibility in when they eat, the new dining facility further expands the flexibility of what they eat. SoVi, like Crown Commons, is set up in multiple stations, with food preparation and action stations in the front of the house. “This gives us a real opportunity to improve choices, said Bremer. “We will go from seven to eight entrees per meal to 15-18. There will be expanded menus for vegans/vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions [e.g.., gluten and dairy sensitivity]. And just about everything can be customized to individual preference.”

Greater Value – The design of the plans is based specifically on data from meal plan use on the UNC Charlotte campus. “We know that students with traditional plans tend to lose meals,” said Bremer. A primary reason is because those plans limit the amount of meal swipes given per day and the time in which those meals can be taken. “If a student has meal times fixed by their plan but a class schedule that’s all over the place, that student is going to miss meals.” So, to provide greater value, traditional meal plans had to go.

“Block plans are used more fully,” he explained, “because swipes can be anytime throughout the semester. There’s no reason to lose meals.” Therefore, block plan choices remain and have been refined based on how students historically use them (first-year students typically use more meal swipes per semester than upperclassmen).

The new unlimited swipe plans may be the best value for many students, particularly first or second-year students who will take most of their meals and make most of their first social connections in the dining halls. Athletes and those who enjoy bigger meals as well as those who prefer to eat smaller portions several times a day will also benefit from an unlimited plan. And with two new, state-of-the-art dining facilities to use — Crown Commons in the Student Union and SoVi at South Village, meal plan dining is more convenient than ever before.

Unlimited meal swipe and block meal plans also come with either $200 or $300 in DB. The amounts were chosen to be practical; dining habit data indicates these are amounts proven to be sufficient for most students.

Financial sustainability – Meal plan sales provide a framework to ensure maintenance of existing dining facilities and expansion when needed. Business Services’ mission statement mandates providing “essential human, financial, facility and administrative support to the university…” Supplying wholesome food from properly equipped kitchens is most certainly essential! The last part of that mission statement, “…customer focused, results oriented, fiscally sound, and integrity bound,” is equally important. Plans designed to give students the most value for the dining services they need and expect, falls fully in line with that mission.

Balance facility use and wait lines – All restaurants experience peak times around meals, but dining venues on a college campus are subject to concentrated surges around class times. The new SoVi at South Village will take some pressure off Crown Commons by providing convenient premier dining for the thousands of students who will live on the South side of campus. Unlimited meal swipes mean that quick meals and snacks can be had in the dining halls, too. And while a burger from Wendy’s and nuggets from Chick-fil-A will always be very popular, expanded healthy and customizable entrée options will attract students who seek greater balance in their diet.

New plans take advantage with expertise in the kitchen
The trend in dining halls now demands broader menus and greater opportunity to eat a balanced diet. Chartwells has a full team of campus chefs with over 100 years of combined experience. And, to underscore their commitment to good nutrition, Chartwells added a full-time Registered Dietitian (RD) to the UNC Charlotte culinary staff. The Chefs and the RD work together to plan menus that offer meal options for students with different palates and diverse dietary needs and preferences.

The updated Meal Plans set the table or the students, providing the broadest dining choice, best value, and an experience that’s as much about ‘breaking bread’ and connecting as it is about being fed.

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Photo credits: 1.) RDH 1973; courtesy of Atkins Library Archives; 2.) Crown Commons 2012; Wade Bruton