Thursday, February 08, 2007

Meal Plans Downtown

A few days ago I had lunch at the Downtown Deli on Main Street. As I was ordering a delicious roast beef sub and a cup of french onion soup, I realized that I didn't have any cash on me. At first I was frightened, sensing some ensuing embarrassment. But then, I realized that Downtown Deli is one of the many eateries on Main Street that is now accepting payment via SUNY Cortland connections accounts. You can imagine my relief, knowing that I had put $20 in my own connections account.

Although this was the first time I actually used my connections money to purchase a meal downtown, I've been impressed by the ingenuity of those business owners who've instituted this policy for some time. Getting in on student meal plans is a great way to generate more business downtown, and also offers students more choices and a way to avoid the monotony of eating the same thing on campus every single day. However, the current policy does have one major weakness.

Connections accounts are not widely used as meal plans. I have funds in my connections account simply because it gives me a discount on campus for meals that are way overpriced when purchased with cash; connections is my emergency fund when I'm stuck on campus and hungry. Most students, especially those who actually live on campus, do not keep funds in this account.

Business owners downtown who are trying to get a chunk of the money students invest in meal plans may want to consider negotiating with the school for the right to accept Dragon Dollars. I believe this account is utilized more by students. I'm not sure what the schools policy is on this, or how open they are to losing business. However, I do know that students would appreciate more variety in their meal plans. I read an article in the Dragon Chronicle a while ago complaining about the lack of variety in the meals offered on campus.

Great job getting the ball rolling in the right direction on this front to those restaurants that have instituted the connections account payment method. And a special thanks to the Downtown Deli (I didn't really have time to wash dishes that day).

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