Students frustrated over meal swipes no longer accepted at Café Rachel


Café Rachel is located on the Shadyside campus. Photo Credit: Alice Crow

Jackie Clark

A recent change to the Chatham University community came in the form of new dining policies. As of last semester, meal swipes would no longer be accepted at Café Rachel; now students can only use flex dollars there. 

Chatham University should re-implement the use of meal swipes at Café Rachel. This was a key way to reduce costs on an otherwise expensive meal plan that is required for many students. 

During the fall and spring semesters in 2020, students were able to use their meal swipes at Café Rachel for a certain combination of items. However, in 2021, this policy was abandoned. When I went up to the counter last semester and ordered, the cashier was confused by the amount of items I planned to purchase with a meal swipe. She explained to me that the policy had changed.

After this experience, I knew I needed to downgrade to a smaller meal plan with fewer meal swipes and more flex dollars.

Toward the end of every semester, many students scramble to spend as many meal swipes as they can before they leave the University for break. No one wants to have wasted their money by failing to use swipes for which they had already paid. However, it’s unrealistic to think that students will use all of their meal swipes at Anderson Dining Hall every morning, afternoon and evening within four months. That is where Café Rachel was the perfect place to pick up a quick snack on the go and use a meal swipe. Students could even create a meal there by buying a drink, a sandwich and a bag of chips. 

The time flexibility of Café Rachel’s hours, location and products were helpful for students’ busy schedules. With all of these advantages, it’s hard to comprehend the reasons for Chatham removing meal swipes at Café Rachel.

Unfortunately, I’m not the only student who’s had this experience and is frustrated. Everyone I speak to shares my confusion about the policy change. Purchasing groceries can supplement the issue, but food on campus still remains a struggle. Anderson Dining Hall may not always be as accessible as Café Rachel due to its place on campus (far away from the Fifth Avenue apartments, for example), leaving the café as the most viable option at times. An amendment to this policy would tremendously help students’ finances.