Meatless Mondays modification

Published in FSD Update

Despite the fact that students drove implementation of the program, Meatless Mondays was less than successful at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The dining team at this Wisconsin university had to re-evaluate the program to take a more educational approach. According to the campus paper, Meatless Mondays began at the campus’s all-you-care-to-eat facility, Blackhawk Commons, in the fall of 2012. Since then, when Meatless Monday rolled around, students seemed to avoid the Commons and instead purchased meals at one of the university’s eight other dining locations—negatively impacting the bottom line at Blackhawk.

“It was fairly successful the first year,” explains Marty Strand, assistant director for dining operations at UW Oshkosh. “But we did see some strong resistance to [it, and] the longer it went on the more students were voting with their feet. For example, we used to serve approximately 1,600 students for lunch and it dropped down to about 800.”

The traffic loss was coupled with increasing costs. Strand says some meat substitutes were more expensive and, as students moved to other dining locations, labor became an issue.

“The cheapest place for us to feed our students is in Blackhawk Commons just because we’ve already got the labor there. If they feed 800 people or if they feed 1,600 people, we still have to open the dishroom, we still have to open the building … all those fixed costs are still there. And if [the students] don’t show up here they go elsewhere. [Then] we’ve got to overstaff those other places that are starting to get congested with students and our expenses [go] way up. So the problem there is, how are we going to make that back? Cut programs, cut hours, cut service, cut something? Something is going to have to change, and we don’t want to do that to deteriorate our dining program, so we want to get them back in [Blackhawk Commons] and we didn’t feel we were making a big enough difference.”

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