If you live in a Yeungnam University dormitory you probably eat in the dormitory cafeteria. However, not all students are able to eat every meal there, and it is an enormous waste because food expenses account for about 600,000 won out of the total dormitory cost. Therefore, the Observer looked into the problems with the dormitory cafeteria currently adopting a compulsory three meal plan, and we investigated how other universities run their dormitory cafeterias.
Problem with three compulsory meals a day during the semester
The Observer uncovered problems with the current meal plan. First of all, food expenses account for 50% of the total dormitory cost, at 612,000 won. Meals do not come cheap. However, many students cannot always eat all three meals there simply because of the distance between the cafeteria and classrooms. They also cannot have meals there when their class hours and lunch times clash. In addition, they often go to their hometowns on weekends. The problem is when they cannot eat there they cannot receive a refund on their expenditure. In order to understand the issues better. The observer conducted a survey targeting 168 students who live in dormitories.
The survey results targeting 168 students about the three compulsory meals a day We conducted the survey by using 'Google docs' from February 7th to 17th, 2012, for 7 days.
Among the above responses “class time is the same as lunch time” was the most frequent reason given for students not being able to use the dormitory cafeteria during the semester. The second most common response was, “It is a waste of money, ” even by students who often use the cafeteria. Finally, “part-time jobs” and “visiting their hometown” were frequent reasons why some students do not use or cannot use the cafeteria on weekends.
Manager, Department of Dormitory
Q) Are there any ways to adjust the payments for when class hours and lunch times clash or when students go to their hometowns on weekends?
A) The system is applied as a whole because we accommodate 2,426 students. it is difficult to consider the various circumstances of every student.
Q) Many students do not eat three meals a day at the cafeteria, is there any way to make an adjustment for this?
A) We provide relatively cheap food costs per unit at 1,800 won per meal for students. This rate is established based on the number of students who do not eat meals on average. If we change the compulsory meals policy, the food unit costs will increase and then, students who do eat all their meals at the cafeteria will have to make up the costs.
Q) When some students do not eat meals, is it possible for them to receive a refund?
A) It is difficult for a small number of students to make payments for food expenses optionally because we establish budgets exactly before the semester taking into consideration all students who live in the dormitory.
Q) Have you ever tried to change your methods of operation?
A) We conducted a survey regarding the institution of a “lunch coupon system” in 2010, but it was abandoned because there were more drawbacks than positives. However, if many students want to change, we will listen to their opinions.
Q) What about changing to a two meals a day policy?
A) We believe unit costs for food are still inexpensive, and many parents often request that student meals be completely covered. We have operated under these guidelines of operation without any problems so far, so we will continue to operate with these methods.
Junior, Media & Communication
Q) How often do you use the dormitory cafeteria?
A) I just use it once a day.
Q) When do you miss meals?
A) I cannot eat meals during lunch. I have classes at the General Lecture Hall. The distance from there to my dormitory is too far and it takes too much time to come back. To be honest, I think food expenses are a waste of money because I probably make use of less than 100,000 won of the food expense out of the 600,000 won total.
Q) What do you think the cafeteria should do?
A) I think the dormitory cafeteria should adopt a meal coupon system. People who want to eat a lot can purchase more coupons and people who want to eat a little can purchase fewer coupons, it would be more effective. If students have problems buying coupons, how about deducting meals like a transportation card or mileage system.
Sophomore, Public Administration
Q) How often do you use the dormitory cafeteria? A) I just use the dormitory cafeteria about once a day. I eat two meals a day once in a while, and hardly ever use it three times a day. Q) When do you miss meals? A) On weekends, I cannot use the dormitory cafeteria because I usually go to my hometown. Just counting weekends I probably miss meals 12 times per a month. When I do not go to my home, I usually eat lunch at the dormitory cafeteria. I do not eat breakfast there because I wake up late. Other than that, I skip meals is because they are not tasty. Q) What do you think the cafeteria should do? A) When I make an appointment, I usually meet in the evening rather than lunch when I have classes. That means I cannot eat dinner at the dormitory and I have to buy meals with my allowance so it is a double expenditure. I want to change to a coupon system so we do not have to waste money.
Management of other school cafeteria
Konkuk, Yonsei and other universities recognized the inefficiency of compulsory meal plans, and they run their cafeteria through alternative means like coupon systems.
Classification Meals / Expenses Weekday Weekend, Holiday Meals Total(￦) 1st semester Semester Compulsory meal plan A 82 days 36 days 136 340,000 Compulsory meal plan B 254 482,600 Semester +Vacation Compulsory meal plan A 121 days 54 days 202 505,000 Compulsory meal plan B 377 716,300
Konkuk students can select two types of compulsory meal options.
Compulsory meal plan A allows students to eat 1 to 2 meals a day and compulsory meal plan B allows students to eat 2 to 3 meals per day during the semester. In other words, compulsory meal plan A is preferable to students who often skip their meals and compulsory meal plan B is preferable to students who stay near the dormitory throughout the day. All the meals that students eat at the cafeteria are counted by an identification card in the dormitory. When students use all of the allotted meals, they can buy more meals as they need. This allows students to design a meal plan to fit their individual needs. By giving students the choice of two different meal plans, they can reduce their burden. Moreover, by making use of statistics that show how many students use the cafeteria on average, the cafeteria can expect how many students will eat there so the cafeteria can prepare the appropriate amount of meals which would help them avoid waste which would reduce overall costs.
At Yonsei University, students buy meal coupons at 2,500 won per meal. The dormitory gives students 70 meal coupons per semester. The total expense is 2,500 won times 70 which equals 75,000 won . The coupon can be used only during breakfast and dinner. For lunch, students need to purchase the coupons separately. When students want more coupons, they can purchase as many as they need. The coupons are 3,000 to 4,000 won depending on the menu item. The Yonsei University dormitory homepage Muak Dorm’s bulletin board has posted many notices about coupon trades. Through these notices, it showed that many students skip meals in the dormitory. To solve the problem, Yonsei University enables students to use coupons to exchange at convenience stores on campus.
According to the survey, the satisfaction rate with the dormitory cafeteria is approximately 10 percent. It is difficult for university students to have every meal compared to high school because timetables are so different. The reality simply does not match the needs and desires of the students. The dormitory cafeteria needs to explore more inventive ways to meet the needs of the greatest number of students.