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Illinois State axes cash

Several dining venues on the campus of Illinois State University, in Normal, are no longer accepting cash. “Any time you have cash and you’re transporting cash and you’re handling cash,” explains Arlene Hosea, director of campus dining services, “there’s a lot of security and safety processes that need to be in place. We have those, but when we looked across campus and looked at some of the changes we could make, we decided that the safety and security of managing cash was a big issue for us, so we decided to go cash free in our residential dining facilities and certain retail venues.”

Where cash isn’t accepted, other means of cashless payment are, such as debit and credit cards as well as meal plans, Flex Dollars and the campus’s Redbird dollars for faculty, staff and students not on a meal plan.

Dining services consulted with other universities that currently do not accept cash and tested the effort at one campus location during the last academic year, finding that removing the cash option improved employee engagement and customer service. “We really are able to focus more on our customers and our customer service, rather than the inefficiency of counting cash and managing cash,” Hosea observes. “That’s been a positive for our employees. They actually have been able to do other things to support really giving those students individualized attention.”

A communications program generating awareness about the change has helped get students, faculty and staff get on board. “We’ve had very little reaction,” Hosea says.

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