Off campus and want to use your meal card? That dream will become a reality in just a few short months.
Edinboro University recently announced the Boro Bucks program, which allows students, faculty and staff to create a balance account on their “existing Edinboro ID/ Meal Plan Cards” where the balance can be used at off-campus vendors. The program is set to begin in Fall of 2015.The program, which will welcome anyone with a meal plan loaded on their Edinboro ID cards, is currently in its “final preparatory stages,” according to a recent email.
“The idea isn’t a new idea,” said Vice President for Financial Operations Eric N. Sheppard. “I was surprised nothing was here at Edinboro when I came here [in October].” In the next four to six weeks, local businesses will be approached about the program. Currently, there are 31 vendors that are expected to join. Some of these potential off-campus restaurants include John’s Wildwood Pizza, Crossroads, Dairy Supreme, La Grille, Ocean Buffet, Subway, Pizza Hut, The Edinboro Hotel Bar and Flip Café.
Julie Decker, owner of Flip Café, approached the university about a program like this about three years ago. “I would be ecstatic if we got this started,” she said. “I think it’ll push students off campus and get them to try new things.” However, the potential venues will also include places like CVS, Walmart and Giant Eagle. “Potentially, just about every place in Edinboro that’s popular with students,” Sheppard said.
For students, the card will work as a reloadable, prepaid card, separate from their flex account, which will remain an oncampus utility. At participating vendors, students will simply swipe their card, and the charge will be deducted from the amount. If they run out during the semester, students can add more. “It’s mostly a service provided to students,” Sheppard said. “I’m just glad we cleared the hurdles to get this started, and I’m enthusiastic to see it in place.”
Edinboro University has previously tried starting a program like this, but this time, Sheppard expects the program to begin in July with a “soft rollout,” but to be fully in place by the time students return for the Fall 2015 semester. “Students get the opportunity to eat meals on campus all the time,” student Ciara Smith said. “If we did have flex dollars we could use off campus, instead of paying out of pocket and having to spend extra…I think we’d support local businesses [more].”
Additionally, at the end of this semester, any unused on-campus flex dollars, again, separate from your Boro Bucks account, will be returned to student accounts in the fall. This was the case between the fall and spring semesters, but the spring to fall transfer is new. Sheppard spoke to other universities about their reasoning for keeping leftover money.
“They [other universities] thought of it as an administrative nightmare,” Sheppard said, “but I didn’t think that was a good enough reason to keep doing this.” Student, Kevin Motko spent little of his flex money over the past two semesters. “Now that it’s the end of the year, I tried to use it up quickly by buying iced tea,” said Motko. “I am very glad that the flex money I do have left will be returned.”
Tracy Geibel is the Campus Life editor for The Spectator.