Faculty, staff to receive one free meal per week

Alex Sandefur

Full-time faculty and staff will now receive one free meal from the Fresh Food Company every week during the 2015-2016 school year.

According to an email sent to all faculty and staff on Oct. 12 from Ann Mead, the senior vice president for finance and administration, this new benefit comes as a partnership between WKU and Aramark.

In the email, she explained the free meal will be applied to faculty and staff ID cards and can be used even if cardholders do not have a faculty and staff meal plan through WKU. However, like meals on students’ plans, these meals will not roll over from week to week.

“We hope that you enjoy your free meal in Fresh Food Company each week,” Mead said in the email to faculty and staff.

Joel Turner, associate professor of political science, said the department has already made plans to eat lunch together every Wednesday to use the free meal.

“I will take advantage of the free meal,” he said. “It’s nice to have that benefit. Having a free meal is better than not having one.”

Some other WKU faculty and staff said they feel the same way as Turner.

Benjamin LaPoe, assistant professor of journalism and broadcasting, said he will be taking advantage of the free meal as well.

“I already eat there [at Fresh] about once a week, so it’ll be helpful for me,” LaPoe said. “It sounds awesome.”

Ginny Durakovich, assistant hall director at Minton Hall, said the free meal will not affect her much since she can go home every day for lunch, but she also said the free meal is nice for faculty and staff who cannot do the same.

“For some staff, it makes sense,” she said. “I just wish [the meal] could transfer to another restaurant on campus.”

According to Steve Hoyng, the resident district manager of Aramark, Fresh was chosen as the restaurant for the free meal because it is a loss leader. This means Fresh’s food is sold below market cost to boost the sales of other, more profitable products.

“We are hoping this gets people to Fresh and gets them to see us,” Hoyng said.

Gary Meszaros, the assistant vice president of business and auxiliary services, agrees with Hoyng. He wants to see more faculty and staff eating at Fresh. He even suggested they meet with their students there.

“I want to see students go there to sit and eat,” he said. “It’s part of the learning experience.”

Meszaros said the decision to offer the free meal came from wanting to give faculty and staff some kind of benefit for their service, and it was Aramark that came to WKU with the idea. He said Aramark has offered similar benefits at other places, and it helped boost the sale of faculty and staff meal plans.

Meszaros said the money to pay for the free meal will come from both Aramark and WKU’s auxiliary services.