The Daily Iowan

UI has no plans to offer fast food on campus

The UI doesn’t currently have any fast food or chain locations on campus, and has no plans to add them any time soon.

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UI has no plans to offer fast food on campus

Freddy's is seen on Feb. 5, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Freddy's is seen on Feb. 5, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Freddy's is seen on Feb. 5, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Freddy's is seen on Feb. 5, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

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Compared with other universities in the U.S., the University of Iowa has a lack of fast-food or chain locations on campus, and there are no plans to change that.

UI Housing & Dining is self-operated, and all employees are university employed, Dining Director Jill Irvin said. Universities that have a lot of franchise restaurants are typically run by a contracted company and may have national accounts with chain-restaurant corporations. The UI doesn’t have those agreements, she said.

The closest options the UI has to a fast-food location is the Erbert & Gerbert deli sandwiches and Godfather’s pizza sold in the Union Station Food Court, Irvin said.

A study conducted by the Food Distribution Research Society in 2015 found that more than 70 percent of college students who were surveyed ate fast food at least once a day.

UI Housing & Dining is currently limited in what it can do in the space available in the IMU, because of conditions with its Federal Emergency Management Agency agreement, she said.

“Usually when you have a relationship with an operation like Subway, or anything like that, they come to you and basically give you the plans that you have to follow to build out the space. So, it conforms to what their standards are,” Irvin said. “We can’t do that right now because of the FEMA regulations we’re currently living with.”

Usually when you have a relationship with an operation like Subway, or anything like that, they come to you and basically give you the plans that you have to follow to build out the space. So, it conforms to what their standards are”

When approached by fast-food corporations in the past, the issue UI Housing & Dining faced was where would the restaurant be located, Irvin said. There isn’t a lot of empty space around campus that can be used for food service, and there are codes the university must follow for the locations, she said.

RELATED: Freddy’s and Panera Bread comes to the UI Capitol Town Center, Office of Sustainability moves out

If a fast-food location were to open on campus in the future, having it be run by Housing & Dining would create more opportunities for students, Irvin said. If the location weren’t run by the UI, it would be less beneficial to the university.

Some other Big Ten universities have national chain locations on their campuses, including Michigan State, which has Panda Express, Subway, and Starbucks on campus.

Michigan State is a self-operating dining program with contractual relationships with national brands, said Cheryl Berry, the schools’s associate director of marketing & communications for culinary services.

“Students and staff enjoy the options available on campus as it brings in a variety of foods to enhance the menu offerings,” Berry said. “With a campus as large as ours, it’s important to have a dining program that meets the needs of the community. National chains help us do that.”

Even though the UI doesn’t have fast-food or chain locations on campus, the proximity of the university to Iowa City’s downtown allows students to take advantage of off-campus dining locations.

The closeness of the Downtown District to campus allows UI students, faculty, and staff to have a diverse number of dining options available, whether it be local or chain locations, said Betsy Potter, IC Downtown District director of operations.

Some chain locations, such as Pancheros, started downtown area before expanding to new locations, Potter said. The combination of local and chain locations gives the Downtown District a diverse number of options for patrons to choose from, she said.

“Not a lot of college campuses are so integrated into a downtown area and, obviously, that’s a big plus for our environment and our economy down here,” Potter said. “Because it’s a unique opportunity for both partners, for the university and for downtown.”

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About the Writer
Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Kelsey Harrell is a news reporter at The Daily Iowan. She is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism...

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