New program gives students off-campus dining options


Trevor Harris remembers his freshman year when he had a meal plan that locked him into eating only on-campus. Harris, a senior screenwriting major, is a Resident Assistant in the Webster Village Apartments (WVA) and isn’t required to have a meal plan now. But if he did, he would no longer have to eat only at Webster University.

“We’ve all been there — you want something else besides Marletto’s and the UC (University Center). After a while, you want just something different,” Harris said. “It would be cool for you and your friends to walk off-campus and grab a bite to eat without digging into the wallet.”

This semester, Webster’s Dining Advisory Board (DAB) has created something new for Webster students to allow them more options when it comes to meals. Gorlok Bucks is a new program that allows all students — those with and those without a meal plan — to purchase food at select locations in the Webster Groves community.

Gorlok Bucks replaces the old program that allowed students to buy points only to be used on-campus. This new system permits students to purchase a select amount of Gorlok Bucks that can be used both on and off campus.

Brad Woodroffe, dining service manager, said this is a program the DAB has worked on getting approved by the university for three years. After winning approval in April, the DAB hired a third party company named Off Campus Solutions to get businesses in the community on board.

At this time, 11 businesses accept Gorlok Bucks from students. This group includes, but is not limited to: Weber’s Front Row, Highway 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen, and Planet Sub. Off Campus Solutions approached multiple businesses in the community and they can be added to the list at any time.

“I think the whole program will start gaining speed as the semester goes on and the next semester begins,” Woodroffe said. “We’ll really start seeing it take off after the first year next fall as I’m more used to it, Webster is more used to it and Webster Groves is more used to it.”

Currently, students can go to Woodroffe’s office in Maria Hall next to the laundry room or to the Housing and Residential Life Office to purchase Gorlok Bucks and add them to their student ID cards.

John Ginsburg, director of the University Center and student activities and a DAB adviser, said in the future DAB will look into getting a system online to allow students and parents to purchase Gorlok Bucks directly from the website. Ginsburg said this program helps give parents  peace of mind knowing their money is going directly toward food and nothing else.

“Typically, since the beginning of time, college students call home and say, ‘I need money.’ … With (Gorlok Bucks), parents know it’s going toward food. They can’t buy alcohol or cigarettes or any other items,” Ginsburg said.

Having the option to eat off-campus with Gorlok Bucks also gives students more convenient dining. The hours of campus dining have always been an issue — mainly for on-campus students. Now, students have more options on the weekends and in the late evenings, Ginsburg said.

“It helps to link with the community. They can put up a sign that says ‘Gorlok Bucks accepted here,’” Ginsburg said. “Students eat off-campus anyway, but they might become more selective where they go. Or it’s merely convenience because it’s midnight and dining isn’t open … well take advantage of these merchants that are open all hours.”

Students living on-campus will have two options with meal plans. The traditional meal plan will retain the on-campus-only points program. A premium meal plan will also be available. With a premium meal plan, $200 of Gorlok Bucks can be added to a student ID for use both on and off campus. If Gorlok Bucks are used at any on-campus location, the student will get a 10-percent discount.

Students like Harris, who don’t have a meal plan, can still purchase Gorlok Bucks to use. Another perk of the program is Gorlok Bucks, like points, roll over into the next semester.

Harris said the plan is great for students, but it’s also a great relationship builder within Webster University and the Webster Groves community.

“It’s a win-win for the community and local, small business ‘cause now they have increased revenue,” Harris said. “You have more customers coming in, so with students bringing out-of-town friends, the friends pay for food, so extra profit for the business. Also, it boosts the relationships with Webster University and the Webster Groves community.”

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