ISU Dining ups Flex Meal opportunities, adds more locations


Katlyn Campbell/Iowa State Daily

Students order their food in the newly renovated Memorial Union food court on Aug. 21 at Lance and Ellie’s. After renovations throughout the summer, the Memorial Union food court features a modern layout with new menu options for students.

Meg Grice

With the start of spring semester, Iowa State dining has developed new parameters regarding Flex Meal dining locations.

Previously, Flex Meals were only usable at Clyde’s, Hawthorn, the Memorial Union Food Court, Lance and Ellie’s, Whirlybird’s and East Side, West Side and South Side Markets. Now, this “to-go” option has opened up to all dining locations, including cafés on campus and Dinkey’s food truck.

Karen Rodekamp, a manager with ISU Dining, said the change came about partially because of the renovations to the Hub and the introduction of Dinkey’s. Bookends had already become busier due to the temporary closing of the Hub, Rodekamp said, and ISU Dining was still unsure of Dinkey’s capacity to allow for Flex Meal usage.

“Now with the Hub opening up this spring semester, knowing what Dinkey’s volume was like this fall, we felt like we could expand those Flex Meals to all of campus and make it more affordable for students,” Rodekamp said. “We never want to give something and then take it away. We’d rather make an addition. Just making sure our locations could handle the volume is why we waited.”

To make this change possible, communication and education were key players. Rodekamp explained how cashiers had to adjust to an extra swipe during a transaction, a task not always done in café locations across campus. John Greving, ISU Dining’s marketing coordinator, said how clearly marking the credentials for this category adds to marketability for each location.

ISU Dining has been monitoring social media for feedback and has seen nothing but praise from students.

“You know, if you’re a College of Design student, and you’re in that building for so many hours … so they were asking for it,” Rodekamp said. “That was a definite consideration, knowing students find value in it.”

Rodekamp also added that many students spend a large majority of their time at the design building, and introducing this dining option to this specific area opens up accessibility, no matter the location.

Chad Bauman, ISU Dining communications specialist, also reminded how Flex Meals are what they say they are: flexible. Additionally, these meals can be used for guests in dining centers, similar to the standard meals allocated for dining center use only.

“It makes communication with parents and students even easier. We can say ‘everywhere,’ and there [are] no asterisks,” Greving said. 

Chris Greussing, a sophomore in journalism, said he thinks the change is nice. Though he doesn’t use Flex Meals a consistent amount, he said he sees himself possibly using them at Bookends in Parks Library rather than Dining Dollars.