Last Friday, Waynesburg University announced major changes to its dining services, including an on-campus Chick-fil-A, a 24/7 mini convenience store and renovations to the Beehive and its Starbucks.
Waynesburg is currently in a contract with Aladdin Food Management Services, which is set to expire on June 30. With the expiration in mind, a committee was put together to survey students and other universities in search of a new contract.
Shari Payne, vice president for enrollment and member of that committee, noted a need for changes to dining options.
“It became quickly apparent that our dining services lack some of the things that students at other campuses were getting,” Payne said. “For us to remain competitive, we would have to make some significant changes.”
One school in the area, Duquesne University, currently has a Chick-fil-A on campus. TJ Stiffy, a sophomore at Duquesne who plans to study information technology at Waynesburg in the fall, is excited that one of his favorite food options will be available at his new school next year.
“I was upset to find out that there wasn’t a Chick-fil-A, because Duquesne has one, but now it feels great to have one coming into Waynesburg,” Stiffy said.
The committee took feedback from students who were not satisfied with current food options. Because of this, they put a focus on access to food and more convenient times.
“As we began assessing what was available in the community, and what we would want available here, Chick-fil-A just kept coming back to the top,” Payne said. “It’s a really good mission fit for us as an institution, and their Christian values. Students love it, our athletic teams use it for fundraising already and we hear of students driving half an hour to get it.”
With an understanding of what they wanted to accomplish, the committee began looking at five different dining vendors as possible partners. Aladdin quickly rose to the top of the list, as the food management group recently opened a Chick-fil-A at Fairmont State University and has a good working relationship with Chick-fil-A nationally.
“They were able to bring Chick-fil-A to campus,” Payne said. “They were so pleased that they gave Aladdin the opportunity to offer us the Chick-fil-A as part of our renegotiation with them.”
A new contract was signed in January that will last for 15 years. As a part of that contract, Aladdin will be putting an investment into campus with a provision to enhance other facilities, such as Benedum Dining Hall, at a later date.
Kent Harkleroad, freshman nursing major, is pleased with the planned additions and the variety they will provide.
“I’m really excited about it because it gives more variety in food. Chick-fil-A is always reliable,” Harkleroad said. “I just smiled and laughed at the rest of the reactions [when the email was sent]. I’m excited to see where the university goes from here.”
Payment changes will accompany the additions next school year. Meal plans will stay in-tact, with the addition of a flex dollar system. The flex dollars will be assigned per semester based on students’ meal plans and can carry over to the spring semester if unused.
“With the meal swipes, you still have the option to do all-you-can-eat in Benedum, and the flex dollars can be used at any facility,” Payne said. “Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, the 24/7 market or the Beehive pick-up.”
Brad Milko, freshman nursing major, plans to frequent the new Chick-fil-A in the fall.
“I was scrolling through Facebook when I found it on the Waynesburg page and I was definitely excited that we are adding another food source to campus,” Milko said. “If it pulls through and there’s a Chick-fil-A on campus next year, I’m utilizing that to my full potential.”
Payne noted that these changes are a response to the desires of students and that future decisions regarding dining will be made with the same student-first mentality.
“This decision was student-driven,” Payne said. “Every decision we were making was with students in mind, based on the feedback we were getting from students.”