Dining Services revises MPE restrictions, alleviates crowds



Laura Monaco

Villanova Dining Services has eliminated the usage of the MPE program from Connelly Center during peak hours, beginning this semester. The changes are meant to direct the large crowds that gathers during lunch and dinner to the three dining halls.

The majority of changes to the MPE program will impact students when they dine in Connelly Center. The Freshens in Connelly Center and at Donahue Court have been added to the MPE program and will accept MPEs from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. in Connelly Center and from 7:30 p.m. until midnight at the Donahue Market.

“In addition to Freshens, we have also reduced the dining restriction hours in the Belle Air Terrace from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. to the new hours of 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” said Tim Dietzler, director of Dining Services. “Currently, a lunch time restriction was placed on the Belle Air Terrace from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. However, we have also eliminated the MPE restrictions on all meal plans in Belle Air Terrace outside of the lunch and dinner restrictions.”

When dining in the Belle Air Terrace, all meal plan participants have the opportunity to use their meal plan for lunch prior to, and after, the MPE-restricted lunch hour.

In addition to these changes at the Belle Air Terrace, a Driscoll Hall upgrade can be added to meal plans, including yet another location at which MPEs are now accepted. More MPE meals have also been added to several of the meal plans’ daily meal account balances, per day as well as per meal. This enhancement gives students yet another option to dine at other convenient locations while still using their MPEs. Furthermore, athletes can no longer use their MPEs in the Exchange.

According to Dietzler, the proposed changes to the MPE program were solidified after a continuing dialogue with the Student Government Association last year.

In the spring 2010 semester, the changes to the MPE program were anticipated, and the meal plan contracts for the current academic year were adjusted to include the new enhancements, especially those pertaining to the Belle Air Terrace. During the summer months, the changes were finalized and implemented in preparation for the academic year.

“Similar to food points and guest meals, the MPE program is a supplemental program to a meal plan,” Dietzler said. “It provides great flexibility and options for meal plan participants. Meal plans are designed and planned for the majority of meals to be enjoyed in one of the three resident dining halls. Unlike food points and guest meals, the MPE options on many plans are reset daily and weekly, giving students increased freedom when dining on campus.”

While the decision to enhance certain aspects of the MPE program inevitably impacts students, it also requires serious financial considerations concerning the volume of food ordered and the amount of refrigeration and storage needed.

For example, the decision to add a single item to the MPE option could potentially impact storage facilities, labor and meal plan expenses.

“A Red Delicious Apple that is provided to 4,500 meal plan participants, per day, over the course of a semester translates to 472,500 apples, or 4,181 cases, or $236,250 at $0.50 per apple,” Dietzler said. “In calculating the costs, you realize that there is much to consider in adding meal plan enhancements that can be sustained over the course of an academic year.”

The enhancements to the MPE program were ultimately aimed toward improving students’ dining experience, as well as adding flexibility and value to meal plans.

However, when changing the restriction hours of locations such as the Belle Air Terrace, the volume of students dining at particular locations on campus will inevitably ebb and flow. Adjustments, therefore, may need to be made to the new MPE program options depending on such variables.

Although the new additions to the MPE program have only been effective for a few weeks among the entire student body, Dietzler remains optimistic that the new improvements to the MPE program will be successful among students.

“We are already getting positive responses to the new enhancements,” Dietzler said. “Meal plan participants are very satisfied with access to Freshens and Driscoll Hall. Many meal plan participants are also excited to have more MPE options per day. Overall, we are excited to be able to offer many new MPE options and features to meal plans.”