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SA Dining Services Committee
Meeting minutes for Friday, October 20, 2006 at Okenshield’s, Willard Straight Hall.
Prepared by Shane Sniffen and Nicole Rodia.
Members in attendance: Name NetID Position Mark Coombs mpc39 Chair Shane Sniffen ss475 Undergraduate Voting Member Mazdak Asgary ma286 Undergraduate Voting Member Nicole Rodia ncr6 Undergraduate Voting Member Ahmed Salem ass34 SA Voting Member Emma Hamme ech33 Student Employee Voting Member Gregory Mezey gnm5 Committee Alternate Colleen Wright-Riva cw223 Director of Dining Services Chelsea Clarke cmc255 Dana Shapiro dls79 Victor Younger vby3 Richard Anderson rwa5 Tony Kveragas ajk9
The meeting began at 5:00pm.
Mark presented the minutes of the previous meeting and mentioned the committee website (http://www.assembly.cornell.edu/SADining/Home) where a member list, meeting schedules, minutes and agendas can be found.
Mark: Keith Bodin e-mailed about the meal equivalencies issue.
Mark reviewed how the agenda is established: first contact the appropriate people for the proposal in question (e.g. Colleen) to get details, then write up the proposal, and finally send it to Nicole.
Donna from the Farm-to-College program spoke in support of maintaining the Farm-to-College task force as part of the SA as previously resolved. The task force would be in charge of promoting local foods in CU dining, making connections between CU and local farmers, etc. Last year task force was supported by DSC chair Kristen Rich. Donna asked the current DSC if there was interest in maintaining the task force under the SA structure.
Mark clarified the term ‘task force’/ad hoc committee: members can be both SA members and non-SA members, but lasts only one year. A more permanent committee would require a change to the charter.
Mazdak asked where we are currently buying produce from. Colleen said that dining buys through a distributor, Ithaca Produce, under a contract with specific language to prefer purchasing local products when ‘available at competitive prices’. Dining will continue to go through them as a middleman. They also track safety records of produce. Mazdak asked what the task force would add to this effort. Colleen said that the task force could help with researching local farms.
Emma asked what the dining meetings regarding local farm produce are like. Victor said that they try to exhaust all local produce before looking for produce at the regional level. Tony described how the labels ‘local’ versus ‘regional’ are applied.
Donna noted that last year the task force conducted research on other northeast universities’ farm-to-college programs and assessed their success; the results show that the good programs tended to have a student task force, which adds motivation to the endeavor.
Mark said that we should think about this issue and decide whether it would be beneficial to continue the task force, and if so, whether we recommend making it an ad hoc or a permanent committee.
Ahmed asked if the extra cost burden of local produce would be placed on the students, and Colleen replied no. He also asked if ‘competitiveness’ included considerations of quality, and Colleen replied yes.
Mazdak suggested that the SA most likely isn’t the best place for this kind of task force. He suggested organizing it with the sustainability coordinator instead. However, the SA and DSC can still help by expressing interest.
Donna said that last year there lacked a way to ensure continuity of the task force as members graduate.
Colleen discussed the next order of business, namely the administrative fee which is charged to each student who enrolls in a meal plan. The fee is a flat rate ($50/year) and is charged to the bursar, rather than included in the cost of the plan. The fee helps Dining towards financial solvency and funds work behind the scenes, such as the computer databases for maintaining meal plan information. She brought up the issue which had been considered last year of whether to include the fee directly in the meal plan, but gave some arguments why this should not be done. The main risk she cited was in the off-campus meal plans, which provide students with $400 Big Red Bucks and 5 meals for $425. Including the fee in the price of this plan might lead students to think that they are being charged twice as much for those five meals.
Mazdak: Does the fee go on the bursar bill at the same time as the meal plan? Colleen: Yes.
Tony suggested it might help to break down the different costs of the meal plan for students.
Nicole asked whether the fee is covered by financial aid. Colleen: Yes, almost definitely.
Ahmed expressed interest in rolling in the Dining Administrative fee and asked Colleen if the fee could be factored out of rate increases. Colleen said that would be extremely difficult.
Greg recommended explaining the purpose of the Administrative fee. Mark agreed, adding that maybe the justification should be posted on the website. Nicole agreed that we should justify the fee as well, and not roll the fee into the meal plan price if it would create a burden for dining.
Ahmed suggested that we vote. Mark explained that we didnít have quorum but since a sufficient number of existing committee members were present (as the Faculty Senate, GPSA, et cetera, had not yet picked members for the DSC), we could vote. Ahmed noted that Colleen should be sure the administration is aware that only 4 people voted. The committee unanimously voted to leave the Dining Administrative fee separate from the meal plan cost.
Greg suggested that we vote on keeping the fee separate for the next 5 years. Ahmed explained that we canít do that because we can only decide on things for this year.
Colleen suggested that we table the discussion of New Dining Facilities on West Campus for next time.
End of meeting, Oct. 20.