Courtney Day and Mary Kate Linehan, For The Miami Student

Junior Holly Farley serves junior Bobby O’Brien Monday afternoon at Bell Tower. Farley is one of many student employees who will no longer receive a free meal when she works in an attempt to cut costs. (SAMANTHA LUDINGTON | The Miami Student)

For Miami University student employees, there’s no such thing as a free meal anymore. Prior to this semester, student employees received a free meal with each four hour shift at on-campus dining hall jobs.

The free meal benefit was cut beginning Aug. 14 in an attempt to reduce the operating cost for food services along with several other changes started by Miami’s Leveraging Efficiencies and Aligning Needs (LEAN) Program.

“This is a program that we have been working on for about a year and it’s all about having a lot of meetings and discussions and the Blackboard site for our staff to help us identify ways of reducing cost,” said Pete Miller, associate vice president for auxiliaries for Housing, Dining and Guest Services.

Miller said the employment situation due to the economy in Ohio is forcing Miami to prepare for more cost difficulties in upcoming years.

“(The end of the free meal benefit) is just one thing and it’s going to take many, many, many things to continue to find ways of reducing our costs to deliver what we need to deliver,” Miller said.

According to Nancy Heidtman, director of Dining and Culinary Services, dining services is working to maintain as many of the benefits for employees as possible. Heidtman said dining halls still pay the highest wages on campus for student jobs and still offer a 20 percent bonus for students who do their jobs consistently, remain in good standing and work a minimum number of specific shifts.

“It took a very long time to come to this decision,” said Karen Recker, associate director of the Dining and Culinary Support Center.

She said the benefit was introduced in the past to attract and retain student employees, but, “It’s not feasible anymore for us to offer that as a benefit.”

Recker said student employees are still given a free fountain drink on their breaks, a benefit not offered by other departments.