Home Opinion Letters Letter to the editor: Meal plan detracts from downtown St. Pete dining options

Letter to the editor: Meal plan detracts from downtown St. Pete dining options

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I nearly choked on my “Collen McCollough” (sandwich at the Tavern) when I read your front-page stories about bidding exclusive dining contracts for students in campus housing. My only question: Why?

As an undergrad in 1996, I endured the University of North Florida’s meal plan for a year before getting out from under that mandatory “amenity.” To be fair, the food was not always bad, few other dining options existed for us, and the nearest grocery store was not a pleasant walk away, so it made sense to have a meal plan system there. I’m not surprised by Sodexho’s and Aramark’s demand for exclusivity at USFSP, but I don’t buy it. Thank goodness I live off campus so I don’t have to.

I originally started grad school at USF’s Tampa campus, but transferred to USFSP in large measure because its downtown campus feels like a part of the surrounding community, rather than apart from it. The Tavern at Bayboro and the Campus Grind are important aspects of that campus-community connection, as are the many other local dining options and watering holes nearby in downtown St. Pete. Please tell me why students living on campus must be compelled, instead, to support one multinational corporate feedbag?

People come from all over the Bay area to enjoy the wide range of dining establishments in downtown St. Pete. Nobody goes to USF Tampa with the primary intent of scoring a great meal or a local brew. Publix is a short walk away from USFSP, as are dozens of restaurants, not to mention the Grind and Tavern right here on campus. Tom Herzhauser, the Tavern’s owner, hopes to be included in a “flex bucks” system. That’s literally the least USFSP can do, and I hope the Grind is included, too.

Andy Fairbanks
afairban@mail.usf.edu

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