Western Illinois University reduces prices, boosts quality

cafeteria cash register

In a time when it seems as if prices of just about everything are rising, it is rare to find prices being reduced. But that’s just what customers at Western Illinois University (WIU), in Macomb, found when they returned to campus this fall.

“With the rising labor and food costs associated with running a full-service dining operation, University Housing & Dining Services (UHDS) needed to make adjustments to run a more cost-effective operation,” explains Leann Meckler, assistant director, marketing and communications for UHDS. “When making these decisions, we received recommendations and feedback from our students, including Inter-Hall Council, our student foodservice committee and our general student population. Based on this feedback, we concluded that the students’ priority was the value of their dollar, variety and flexibility of options and overall food quality. As a department, UHDS took this feedback and developed a plan to lower costs in the dining centers while keeping, and even improving, the quality of services offered.”

The plan that UHDS developed included renovations to two dining hall facilities and the University Union in order to streamline services and focus on quality, which helped to reduce expenses so that the savings could be passed to students.

UHDS reduced prices on most of its 14,000 items by 15% to 20%—great news for students trying to balance the cost of earning a college degree. “Students will see lower retail prices in the dining centers and union locations, giving them more value for their dollar,” Meckler explains. “Student meal plans will go farther, alleviating some of the financial burdens associated with attending college.”

Not surprisingly, students are happy with the lower prices. “We’ve heard some very positive feedback from our students in regards to the lower prices, food quality, new options and continued flexibility of their dining plan,” says Ketra Russell, assistant director of budget. “These changes were able to be implemented because of some direct cost-reduction measures. Our decisions were in line with what our students valued and because of that, we are receiving positive feedback. The direct impact was to our dining center prices, as this is where we intend for students to use the majority of their meal plan dollars.” 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has appointed Satya Menard as global CEO of its schools and universities segments.

Menard has been with Sodexo for 20 years, holding senior roles within the company such as CEO of benefits and rewards services for Central Europe and CEO of Central and South America for on-site services.

Most recently, Menard was CEO of service operations, a capacity in which he coordinated internal support to operations including service experts in facilities management, food, supply chain and information services and technology.

Menard will transition to the role beginning...

Sponsored Content
little caesars

From PODS ®.

Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, Little Caesars® is the largest carryout-only pizza chain in the United States. Founded in 1959 as a single, family-owned restaurant, Little Caesars has become the third largest pizza chain in the world with stores in 23 countries and territories worldwide, including in each of the 50 U.S. states. Each day it serves more than three million pizzas to its customers.

All the equipment used by Little Caesars is supplied by Blue Line Distribution, a wholly owned subsidiary of the restaurant franchise. This includes foodservice...

Industry News & Opinion

A new law in Washington will expand Breakfast After the Bell programs throughout the state, the Daily Fly reports.

Signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee, HB 1508 requires that schools in which at least 70% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals offer Breakfast After the Bell by the time the 2019-2020 school year begins.

The food offered at breakfast must meet federal nutrition standards and can’t be made up of more than 25% added sugar. Schools must also give preference to food that is fresh and grown in the state.

The breakfast period can...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles will begin offering fresh kosher meals three times a week at its USC Village Dining Hall, the Daily Trojan reports.

The meals will be delivered to the dining hall every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening by a local kosher butcher beginning March 20. The butcher will also deliver sandwiches, salads and other kosher items to a marketplace on campus.

Around 15 Orthodox students who are on meal plans will be able to enjoy the meals, according to the Daily Trojan. Students can receive their meals at the cashier’s desk in...

FSD Resources