J Street sales dropped 25 percent over the last year, a University official said this week, blaming fewer purchases by sophomores for the decrease.
The main dining hall has seen about 2,200 customers per day, down from 2,800 last year, director of campus dining Richard Yokeley said. Daily sales dropped by about $5,000 to about $16,000, he said.
Yokeley said those numbers equal the money and foot traffic lost by reducing the amount of dining dollars sophomores had to spend at the dining hall and other Sodexo locations.
Starting this fall, the sophomore dining plan includes $1,000 of Colonial Cash per semester and no dining dollars. In past years, students with 30 to 59 credit hours were required to spend $500 annually at University venues like J Street in addition to the $1,000 of Colonial Cash.
The University implemented the mandatory dining plan in 2007 to help fund that year’s renovations for the dining hall, Nancy Haaga, director of Campus Support Services said at the time.
The campus dining staff has made minor adjustments to offset the shortfall including the switch from à la carte to pay-by-the-pound at Thyme and expanded options at the Metro Diner and the Simply-To-Go market.
The University will consider additional modifications pending an online campus-wide dining survey distributed to students last month. Yokeley and Haaga said they did not know when the results would be available.
Yokeley said that staff cuts are not off the table if the decline in sales continues, but did not elaborate on when or to what extent positions would be nixed.
Haaga said this summer’s sweeping changes, designed to quell student complaints about lack of variety and unhealthy choices, may not have sunk in yet for students who avoided J Street in the past.
”I think it’s something that will take time,” Haaga said.
While she doesn’t expect upperclassmen to “come back to J Street,” she said underclassmen who frequent J Street now will be more likely to come back in the future.
The Student Dining Board brought up the issue of campus dining at the Student Association meeting Monday. Chair Ben Leighton asked senator s how the dining hall could better compete with off-campus venues.
Student leaders sounded off on the quality, hours and pricing of J Street venues. John Bennett, the finance committee chair, said he recently paid about $7 for “two pieces of Wonder Bread and two ounces of meat” at the new venue Nosh.
“Would it be a viable option to bring down pricing?” Bennett asked.