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Students Face Dilemma with Meal Plans

Students Face Dilemma with Meal Plans

The line everyone is waiting in this year is the one to activate meal plans. Students at Tennessee State University were experiencing wait times on average of 36 minutes to get their meal plans activated. Instead of pulling up the financial information at the cafeteria like previous years, students were redirected to Hankal Hall to get the problem solved. The students concern was not primarily based on the activation, but the process which involved walking to Hankal Hall, a building most used for parking violations and athletic tutoring.

“So I am hungry, and in order to eat, I have to walk all the way to Hankal and then wait in a line out the door, looking at one lady try to activate everyone in that lines meal plan. Then, I keep having to come back because I have class. I can’t keep waiting twenty minutes when there’s only ten minutes between classes, and then they shut down at four. So it looks like I’m paying cash or going hungry if I don’t get here before dinner. I just want to know why they moved this from Kean to be honest,” Junior Shanterica Ealy said.

The meal plan is a multi-departmental project according to the Identification and Access control center. The ID center, the IT technical department, and the university’s primary food vendor, Aarmark, are all involved when it comes to transferring data to match students to individual meal plans they have purchased.

“When I.D’s are activated the I.T departments sends a list of currently registered students to the dining hall, the dining hall then downloads all those meal plan numbers, and assignments and assigns each I.D. to its meal plan,” Mr. Marquan Martin, the Director of the Identification and access control center explains, “Generally we only have five to six hundred that need to be re-activated. IT sent the list at the beginning of December but at that time most students have not registered or confirmed so when we came back from the break, the snow days stopped some of the progress on downloading assignments.”

Everyone experienced the two snow days after the winter break commenced and the university was closed that previous week before students returned due to the same reason. During this time, the technical department sent another list of registered students before classes started, yet the staff was out and unable to complete the downloads due to the university being closed.

“So while we were out, the only names the dining halls had was the list of peoples names that registered back in December. So if we would’ve gotten the updated list right before classes started we would have been okay, but while school was closed, staff was out and people were hungry so we had to go ahead and start activating them on-site,” Mr. Martin said, “We can’t do the download after that point because then we would have to push a reset meaning people that have already been activated, it would put them back to their starting point.”

Currently the university is working on cutting out the technical department as the middle-man. Upgrades are being processed to connect the dining hall system to the ID system so that the data would be automatically sent from the I.D center to Aarmark therefore there will be no more need for manual downloads.

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