About Dining Services/FAQ
About Dining Services
Dining Services is a self-supported auxiliary enterprise that manages the food service contract at Texas State. The contract is held by Chartwell’s and the current term began in 1998 and will expire in 2023. The original contract was competitively bid and approved by the Board of Regents. A subsequent contract extension was awarded in 2004 in return for $2,950,000 in capital investment. That extended the contract terms through May 2013. In May 2010 the Board of Regents approved an additional 10 year extension worth $13.6M, which now extends our term to 2023.
The contract encompasses all aspects of dining services here on campus. The areas managed by Chartwell’s include: Commons Dining Hall, Harris Dining Hall, Jones Diner, The Den, LBJ Student Center Food Court, Paws N Go, The University Club, JCK Snack Bar and the Round Rock Higher Education Center Grill. The contract allows for Chartwell’s to manage all on-campus dining services venues and gives them first right of refusal for any future venues. The contract also provides catering services to the university community; however several off-campus caterers are also available for our customers to choose from.
One of the principal duties of the Dining Services contract administrator is to insure the timely processing of the weekly dining services invoice to the food services contractor. This is performed in the office of Auxiliary Services and that is where all supporting documentation of the invoice is maintained. The dining services contractor is paid a daily rate per meal plan, per participant to provide the specified dining services. The meal weeks run from Friday – Thursday and any commissions earned during the period of an invoice are credited against the expenses thereby lowering the payable amount. The Director of Auxiliary Services distributes the revenues earned to 3 areas; Dining Services, the Den and LBJ Student Center Food Services, regardless of the number of meals eaten.
Our customers include the students, faculty, and staff of Texas State as well as the many daily visitors and local community. Our most frequent users are our Resident Dining Plan members. These are mainly students living in our residence halls, but in addition we routinely sell approximately 900 – 1,000 plans to off-campus students. Resident students can choose between 3 dining plans:
- 150 Meal Plan + $125 Dining Dollars $1,196 (appears as two separate charges on the student bill: $1,060.69 and $135.31)
- 200 Meal Plan + $100 Dining Dollars $1,299 (appears as two separate charges on the student bill: $1,190.75 and $108.25)
- 250 Meal Plan + $75 Dining Dollars $1,397 (appears as two separate charges on the student bill: $1,315.81 and $81.19)
Note the price of each meal plan listed above reflect the Fall 2017 prices. All prices include 8.25% State Sales Tax as required by law.
The cost per meal for each plan varies and becomes a greater value as more meals are purchased. When determining the cost per meal you must deduct any applicable Dining Dollars and Sales Tax. Once this is done the cost per meal per plan is the following:
150 Meal Plan $7.07
200 Meal Plan $5.95
250 Meal Plan $5.26
Door prices will be $7.09 for breakfast, $8.99 for lunch, and $9.49 for dinner at our all-you-care-to-eat dining halls.
Each plan allows the user to access their meals and dining dollars for each semester they are purchased. Unused Meals may carry-over from fall to spring, provided a new Resident Dining Plan has been purchased in the spring semester. There is no carry-over allowed for Dining Dollars; they must be exhausted in the semester they are purchased. By default, if you have both Dining Dollars and Bobcat Buck$, our cash register system will automatically deduct Dining Dollars before Bobcat Buck$. This is done in order to protect students, because while Bobcat Buck$ can be used the entire time you are a student, Dining Dollars will expire at the end of each term. Therefore a student would always want to use their Dining Dollars before Bobcat Buck$ at our on-campus dining locations.
Meals can be used in either of the two all-you-care-to-eat dining halls, Harris and Commons. This is easily the most cost effective use of the Resident Dining Block Meal Plans. Both locations are open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Monday – Friday, and Brunch and Dinner on Saturday and Sunday. In order to maximize the value of your Resident Dining Plan, students are encouraged to visit either of our all-you-care-to-eat facilities.
Commuter block plans are also available to faculty, staff, and non-resident students. For details about commuter plans, click here.
Retail Dining Locations and Meal Trades
The Den, LBJ Student Center Food Court and Jones Diner are our primary retail locations. The Den and LBJ Food Court serve the majority of our retail/cash customers are served. Jones is a Food Court, but appeals to the Resident Dining Plan users because most offerings can be bought with a Meal Trade. The Meal Trade option in our dining plan is where a student can elect to use one of their Block Meals and exchange it for a pre-determined, set meal; typically a meal trade consists of an entrée, side and 24 oz beverage. At Blimpie Subs in the LBJ Student Center a meal trade would consist of a 6” Sub, Chips and a Beverage. Not all items for sale in the Retail locations are available as a meal trade. Some of the higher priced menu options make it financially difficult to offer everything as a meal trade. However every national and signature brand that we have on-campus offers at least one meal trade option with the exception of Starbuck’s.
The cost of each individual meal trade varies based on the location and menu item and most, if purchased at retail, would cost between $5.00 - $7.00. The retail price of our meal trade combinations average $5.95. The contract does not specify a specific value of a meal trade, but over the years this has become our target for new meal trade offerings. There has also been an attempt to maintain a meal trade as an Entrée, side and beverage, however we have allowed a few exceptions over the years, the most notable being a 22 oz. smoothie beverage at Freshens in both the Den and LBJ Food Court.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are Residence Students living in traditional residence halls required to purchase a meal plan?
A: The Residence Halls here at Texas State are designed to provide a comfortable living space where students can interact in a community environment and learn basic life skills that will enhance their educational experience. The Halls are not equipped to handle the massive utility demands that would be placed upon them if all students were left to make their own food in the confines of the room. Also the dining hall experience adds to the community living environment that our residential program establishes.
Q: Where can I use my resident dining plan?
A: Resident dining plans are accepted at all campus food services locations. Commons and Harris dining halls provide all-you-care-to-eat unlimited servings and you can use a meal trade at any of our retail dining facilities. As noted above the all-you-care-to-eat facilities offer the best value for the meal plan user.
Q: Why are Meal Trades included in the Residence Dining Program?
A: The concept of the Meal Trade – Using a Block Meal to eat at our retail locations – was established in 1998 with our new contract. The idea was to offer our students optimal flexibility so they could occasionally break the monotony of the dining hall and enjoy our other dining locations. For the purposes of meal plan value, the all-you-care-to-eat offerings at both Commons and Harris are still and will always be the best value.
Q: How does Meal Roll-over work?
A: Back in 2006, Texas State Dining Services decided to allow students who purchase a resident dining plan in the fall and spring to access their unused meals from the fall in the spring only after a resident dining plan is purchased in the spring. The Resident Dining Plans are for use during one semester only and should be exhausted in the semester they are purchased. Meal Plan access begins approximately one week before classes begin in each semester and end approximately 24 hours after the final exam on each semester. A meal plan never rolls over if one is not purchased in the spring. All meal plans expire at the end of the spring term. Dining Dollars never rollover during any term.
Q: What are the busiest venues we have on campus?
A: By far our busiest place here at Texas State is Chick-Fil-A located in the LBJ Student Center Food Court. Our two newest concepts are doing well also, Starbuck’s in the LBJ Student Center Food Court and Einstein Bros. Bagels located in the Den. Paws N Go is very busy as well as Jones Diner. Commons is very busy at lunch and the place to be on Sunday evening for dinner is Jones.
Q: What are Dining Dollars and how are they different from Bobcat Bucks?
A: Dining Dollars are part of all Block Meal Plans and are used to supplement the meals at various retail locations. They are used dollar for dollar and can only be used at on-campus dining locations operated by Chartwell’s. Bobcat Bucks is a separate debit account that can be used in addition to Dining Dollars and can be used in all the on-campus dining locations as well as other on-campus locations like the Bookstore and Health Center. They are also accepted at many off-campus locations such as restaurants, stores, entertainment venues, salons, automotive services and more.. For a full list of the locations visit the ID Services web page here.
Q: How is the cost of the Meal Plans determined?
Meals Plan cost for the coming year is determined in February prior to the next fall semester. The cost is determined by the Director of Auxiliary Services with the approval of the Director of Residence Life, the VP for Finance and Support Services and the VP for Student Affairs. This rate proposal is then forwarded to the Board of Regent’s for approval at their February meeting. The Director of Auxiliary Services maintains fiduciary responsibility for the Dining Services account. The dining services contract requires that the contract rate, as originally established per the competitive bidding process, paid to the contractor for the individual meal plans is determined by the percentage change in the CPI for food eaten away from home between November and October for the following fall semester. Once that rate is established the director can prepare that year’s budget and determine if a board rate increase in necessary.
Q: How much of my meal plan dollars goes to pay the contractor?
A: Approximately 75% of the money that pays for the meal plan goes directly to the dining services contractor. With that sum of money they are required to pay all costs associated with the daily operation of the dining program. This includes but is not limited to cost of labor, food cost, supplies, transportation, marketing, training, daily operating cost, small wares, franchise fees, and all other cost associated with the daily operation of the dining services program.
Q: Where does the other 25% go?
A: Of the remaining 25%, 8.25% goes to the State of Texas in the form of sales tax. The remaining 16.75% is used to pay for various costs including; Debt Service on the dining facilities, Utilities, University overhead, repairs and renovations to the facilities, insurance and labor.
Q: Does the University provide any financial support to the Dining Services account?
A: No, the account is a fully self-supported auxiliary enterprise and receives no state tax dollars or tuition monies. It relies solely on the monies that are generated by the food services operation.
Q: How are new concepts determined and who approves them?
A: The process to install a new national or signature branded item must be approved in advance by the Food Service Committee. This committee is comprised of students and staff members that assist the Director of Auxiliary Services in monitoring the dining services contract. Ideas for new concepts come from our contractor, our students or our staff. Only after the food committee has approved the concept is it presented to the university facilities committee for approval. At no time has there ever been a concept brought to this campus by the food services contractor that was not approved in advance by the university.
Q: Who pays for the cost of installing a new concept?
A: The dining services operating budget or the LBJ Student Center dining services operating budget, if the concept is housed at that location. The university owns all the equipment and furnishings associated with the food concepts here at Texas State. This is due to the fact that the contractor may someday change and at that time a new contractor would be able to continuing operating our facilities with no service interruptions or negotiations over who owns certain equipment. The equipment and build-out is the property of Texas State and the food service provider merely operates the location for us.
Q: Who determines the price of items in the retail locations?
A: The contractor provides the dining services committee each spring a retail price comparison with our prices compared to those of the local community. They then determine, based on the various cost factors that affect them; labor, food, transportation, and other operating cost, next year’s cost for every item. Increases are never granted across the board and each one must be approved by the dining committee.
Q: Who manages catering on-campus?
A: Catering is managed by our dining services contractor. They are required by contract to provide a full array of catering services that range from a simple cookie and punch set-up to a full-service formal dinner. Others from the community are allowed to provide catering as well assuming they meet the minimum food services insurance requirements. These companies will be more limited in their offerings many times and often served a single specialized item like Bar-B-Q.
Q: So do I have to use the on-campus caterer?
A: No, as stated above we have numerous off-campus caterers that can be contracted to cater your event. Please check the auxiliary services web page under the catering link to see a list of the approved caterers.
Q: Why does the on-campus food services provider have exclusive use of the dining services facilities here on-campus?
A: The contract that we currently have in place began in 1998 and runs until May 2023. When the contract was awarded it was awarded under the terms and conditions that provided exclusive or minimally first right of refusal for future food services venues here on campus. This is done in order to take advantage of the economies of scale that using a single provider affords the campus. With such a robust resident dining program, it would be impossible to split those payments among competing vendors.
Q: Does that mean that local businesses cannot be represented here at Texas State?
A: No. However, all local businesses would be required to operate through our dining services contractor and the university would still have a single point of contact for all dining services related issues.
Q: So are all the brands like Blimpie’s and Pizza Hut operated by Chartwell’s?
A: Yes, all the food services venues here on campus are operated and managed by Chartwell’s. Chick-Fil-A, Pizza Hut, Blimpie’s, Starbuck’s, Einstein’s Bagels, and Panda Express are all national brands managed and operated by Chartwell’s. Chartwell’s contracts with those brands and pays all royalties and commissions to the national brand.
Q: Does Chartwell’s give back to Texas State?
A: Yes and very generously we might add. They are one of the two naming sponsors for the annual Celebrity Classic that benefits the Graduate student scholarship fund. They also support Athletics, Orientation, Alumni, ASG, Paws Preview, Student Affairs, Finance and Support Services and many others. They also employ numerous students each year and provide various internships in the dining services field.
Q: Where can I find out more?
A: The Dining Services web site is under the department of Auxiliary Services and that is where you will find a link to other valuable information concerning Food Services. Also the Food Committee which is referred to here numerous times post all its meeting minutes here.