Features

Change in Flex dollars hurt local businesses

By Jae Cho

Before the 2015-2016 school year, students had an ample amount of Flex dollars as part of their meal plan. Flex could be used on campus or at participating off-campus locations.

In the fall of 2015, the university added Forester Bucks to meal plans, reducing the amount of money students received to spend at various locations.

According to the HU portal website, “Forester bucks are flexible-use funds that are provided by Huntington University each semester and may be used both on campus at the Dining Commons, Norm’s, or the HU Bookstore, or off-campus at Café of Hope, 509 Coffee House, or Pizza Hut.”

Flex dollars could therefore only be used on campus at the Dining Commons or at Norm’s, according to the portal’s informational page.

Due to this significant change, the local businesses that used to accept Flex dollars have experienced a noticeable financial loss.

The manager at Café of Hope, Courtnie Smith, said the business has experienced an 80 percent decrease in business from HU students as a result of the changes from Flex to Forester Bucks.

“It’s just unfortunate for students that they have to have alternate methods of payment now,” Smith said.

The manager at Pizza Hut, Ralph Johnson, also commented that their income from HU students “dramatically decreased,” and that he wishes the university did not make a change.

Logan Patterson, manager at the recently-closed coffee shop 509 Coffee House, said they “certainly did lose income when Flex went away.”

Upperclassmen who remember the meal plans before the 2015 change are also effected by the decrease in Flex dollars.

Senior Zach Borntreger said his freshaman year had “the best meal plan,” but is not that way any more.

“I had like, one hundred and sixty Flex dollars and two hundred meals per semester,” Borntreger said. “It was much better than now. I don’t know why they took it away from me.”

Another senior, Adrienne Newsome, said she made use of her Flex dollars particularly at Cafe of Hope during her freshman year and is bothered by the effect the changes have had on businesses.

“I am sad to hear that the change in meal plan is hurting the local businesses,” Newsome said.

Junior Laura Wolfskill expressed her sense of despondency.

“If I had more flex dollars,” she said, “I definitely would go to local businesses more often.”

Ron Coffey, vice president for student life, commented that the change was implemented because there were too many leftover meals students did not use.

“It’s unfortunate it’s affecting local businesses,” he said. “We will continue to look into potential changes in meal plans in the future to serve HU students better.”

 

2014 After 2014
Meal Plan A 20 Meals per week

$60 Flex Dollar

20 Meals per week

$50 Flex Dollar

$25 Forester

Meal Plan B 200 Meals per semester

$160 Flex Dollar

15 Meals per week

$50 Flex

$25 Forester

($144 cheaper)

 

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