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Rutgers reinforces bottled beverage policy at Woody's Cafe due to product outages

 Due to limited storage room and refrigerator space, Woody's Cafe cannot allow for bottled beverages to be included as part of a student's meal swipe. Instead, students are only permitted to get a fountain drink or carton of milk as a beverage.  – Photo by Wikimedia

Students who try to purchase a bottled beverage as part of their meal swipe at Woody’s Cafe on Busch campus now find that they are unable to do so, due to reinforcement of Rutgers Dining Services policies.

Though students were previously able to include a bottled beverage as part of their meal swipe, Nicholas Emanuel, the director of operations at Rutgers Dining Services, said the policy for retail operations did not change, but were just reinforced this semester.

In an email to The Daily Targum, Emanuel said the policy should have been enforced in previous semesters but he only became aware of the problem because of complaints about product “outages,” or unavailability.

“Students can still purchase water bottles or they can fill up a container with water, but because of limited space we cannot allow swiping for bottled beverage as this creates constant product outages or room (temperature) products,” he said. “Woody's serves approximately 10,000 meals per week. If every student took a bottle, we would need to store over 420 cases of bottled beverage and we just don't have room for them.”

There is not enough space in storerooms or refrigerators to accommodate students who “grocery shop,” according to the Rutgers Dining Services website. When dining services allowed students to add anything to their meal swipe, it resulted in constant warm beverage items and outages. 

Meal swipes typically include a center-of-the-plate item such as a sandwich or salad and a side, as well as a fountain beverage. For Woody’s, the maximum value a student can swipe for is $9, which Emanuel said was based off of the cost to purchase the raw food, the labor to make the food and the fixed expenses to run the business. 

Currently, Rutgers Dining Services provides more than 30,000 meals every day, many of these meals coming from retail operations as opposed to dining halls, according to its website.

“We are striving to better serve you on a daily basis and will be opening more retail locations for you to use with your meal plan in the future,” according to the website.

But Ije Efobi, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said she is displeased that Woody's Cafe does not allow the purchase of bottled beverages. 

"(It) sucks because the fountain drinks are mostly soda," she said. "And I prefer to drink out of a bottle."

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