While Leo’s will never have trouble retaining the freshmen and sophomores who often purchase larger, more expensive meal plans as part of their mandated procurement, the dining hall’s elimination this year of the 45-block meal plan robs juniors and seniors of flexibility in dining options. They claimed to hear us in their advertising campaigns, but in this case, they weren’t listening.
In the past, upperclassmen, many of whom have their own kitchens available to prepare meals, were able to purchase the small meal plan that cost more per swipe but allowed for stops at O’Donovan Hall between classes or Grab ‘n’ Go for particularly busy days. Trading value for flexibility was a compromise that served the Hilltop well.
While Aramark, the private company that operates Leo’s and Georgetown’s auxiliary food services, must make some of its decisions to help its bottom line, its decision to eliminate its smallest meal plan unduly prohibits those seeking dining flexibility and affordability from finding a plan that works for them.
If the decision were indeed about business, it does not seem to be a very smart one on the part of Aramark. Alienating those upperclassmen threatens to eliminate a part of Leo’s customer base that was reluctant to purchase meal plans in the first place.
Aramark may believe that eliminating smaller plans forces students to rely more heavily on its services, but under this year’s existing options, students must choose between paying for hundreds of dollars’ worth of wasted meals or forgoing Leo’s altogether. For many, that’s an easy choice.
To win back customers only willing to purchase Leo’s smallest block plan, Aramark must better account for the realities of student life and campus dining.