Appalachian refuses IHOP meal plan partnership

Chamian Cruz

In order to provide students with the best quality food, Food Services at Appalachian State University prides itself on being self-operated since 1925, but this means using AppCards to pay for meals off campus is not a possibility in the  near future.

Food Services receives no state funding and is 100 percent receipt-supported, Heather Brandon, Food Services specialist at Appalachian, said.

“How we pay our meals and how we formulate our budget is based on the meal cards that we sell and also the money that comes from all the cash registers,” said Pam Cline, Food Services director at Appalachian. “From the money that we get from selling meal accounts to students that are living on campus we figure out how much our food is going to cost, how much we’re going to pay for labor, how much for electricity and steam, and other costs like that.”

Approximately 700 students are employed by Food Services and any remaining funds are reinvested into the university through facility improvements such as the renovations to Trivette Hall, Brandon said.

“Essentially, we cost the university nothing and instead benefit Appalachian by being the largest employer of students on campus and by continuing to invest in the university’s infrastructure,” Brandon said.

Recently, the new IHOP in Boone has attempted to work with Appalachian to offer students the opportunity of paying for meals with their AppCards.

“We contacted the school trying to find out if it was an option to use the AppCards at our locations and we were told that’s not something they’re doing at this time with any restaurants,” said Niki Austin, brand manager for Carolina Family Restaurant Association.

Other IHOP locations have worked with universities to offer this for students and normally it is through the meal account, Austin said.

“The school has to allow us to be a part of the program and they are not allowing any restaurants outside of the campus at this time,” Austin said. “Maybe if students contacted the Food Service Director then they could start changing the program, but as far as I know they are not set up to be able to do that at this time.”

Since Food Services relies on the money they make from selling meal plans, partnering with businesses off campus would take away some of that money and it would result in Food Services not being able to pay their bills, Cline said.

“As a business, it would be like having a McDonald’s gift card and Hardee’s saying they would take [it],” Cline said. “It would be our meal plan that is for Appalachian and letting IHOP take it and we would reimburse them for that.”

Cline said they try to be good stewards of Appalachian’s student funds and business enterprises since Food Services does not receive state funds.

“We take pride in what we do and I think we do a good job, and if there’s something students want that is on an IHOP menu we want to provide that in-house,” Cline said. “We’re open to suggestions if we need to remap some of our menus to mirror more of what they’re doing.”

Story: Chamian Cruz, Intern News Reporter