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MVNU trades "an hour for an hour"

After years of missed dinners and late night food runs, MVNU responds to the needs of grumbling student stomachs. Changes to the cafeteria hours, 586 menu and the RoadBucks system are coming in the fall of 2016.

Starting this fall, cafeteria hours will extend to 8:00 p.m. to meet student body needs. Robert Hamill, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, recognized the need for a change two years ago.

“I realized the last time a survey was done was 12 years ago and did not reflect the current student body,” Hamill said.

After digging deeper Hamill contacted University Chaplain Joe Noonen who willingly conducted a survey of 286 students spanning the four classes. The results of the survey showed that many students missed dinner because of athletics, class schedules, practicums, nursing clinicals and on-campus jobs. Because of this many students are forced to purchase dinner even though they are already paying for the MVNU meal plan.

“12 years ago we didn't have all of our practicums," Hamill said. "We also didn't have our downtown campus for nursing and art.”

To accommodate for the demanding schedules, Hamill and his team sought a way to extend the cafeteria hours.

“We have a contract with Pioneer Catering that allows us to keep the caf open 12 hours a day,” Hamill said.

It is up to the school administration to determine which hours it will be open to the students.

Originally Hamill looked at closing the caf from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. But, according to Hamill, the survey did not provide “enough dip in the usage of the cafeteria” during that time. Instead, “the survey showed that 2 to 3 p.m. was the lowest trafficked time.”

The research results led administration to extend hours to 8 p.m. by closing the cafeteria from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. This schedule still accommodates students with classes ending at 2:10 giving them access to the cafeteria.

“It is a good swap of an hour for an hour,” Hamill said. “We believe there will be better usage of the 7 to 8 p.m. hour. It is still 12 hours, but it’s a better 12 hours for our student body.”

The 586 reformats and RoadBucks expand

In fall of 2016 the 586 format will transform to follow trends in the student body. The 586 will open at 8 p.m. and will provide a snack menu that is much cheaper than the current menu.

Robert Hamill has put the 586 under scrutiny in the past year and noticed a few themes that led to this change.

First, according to Hamill’s research, it is open too many hours. Currently, the 586 is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 5 to 11 p.m. which adds up to 13.5 hours a day. Yet, the student body uses it little during the day.

“Everybody prefers to scan [at the caf] rather than pay [at the 586],” Hamill said. “So, issue number one is lots of hours but low usage.”

Hamill has also noticed that the 586 offers a lot of the same food choices as the caf. The final issue is found in student preferences.

“They like late night snacks,” Hamill said.

Students prefer to have snack foods late at night as opposed to full course meals.

MVNU has found a way to solve these three issues by opening the 586 later and changing the food offered. Hamill also hopes to stretch the students’ RoadBucks.

Students will still be given $30 in RoadBucks, but with the new model, that money will stretch further into the semester.

“We want to offer foods the students want and make their RoadBucks go further,” Hamill said.

Administration will be conscientious when pricing the new menu.

The biggest surprise yet: Hamill is working with the community to allow students to use their RoadBucks at other restaurants.

When MVNU first began talking to the owners of Happy Bean the RoadBucks system was a topic discussed. Both MVNU and Happy Bean are excited about the prospect of this partnership. Hamill is confident that the details will be worked out so that RoadBucks can be used downtown by fall of 2016.

“We are hoping to keep building upon this concept and one day scan at Taco Bell,” Hamill said.

The Lakeholm Viewer wants to hear your feedback about these changes! Email Jenna Potts at and your comments may be featured in the next issue of The Lakeholm Viewer!

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