Students begin fall and spring semesters with $150 in dining dollars on their mane cards. With this money, they have five locations to choose from, including The Commons and the Guillot University Center. But what discounts are they getting when they are off campus?
Many college students are reliant on student discounts to save money. 73 percent of students said they regularly look for restaurant student deals online, according to prweb.com.
“I think that it’s a good idea for restaurants to provide students with discounts,” said senior Karina Juarez. “Especially since we see other places doing the same thing. I purposefully go into those places more. So, I believe that if these students were given discounts at fast food places that would not only encourage their business, but it will help us financially because we as college student typically don’t have much money. So, it would be a win-win situation.”
Several places like Garden Gate, Soul Wingery, Pie Factory and FloBama give students discounts and accept Mane Benefits.
Mane Benefits is a program launched from UNA’s Steele Center of Professional Selling.
Some restaurants will give students a percentage off their purchase if they present the server with their mane card.
However, fast food chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell do not offer students with any kind of markdown.
When asked if they provide students with a discount 14 out of 20 restaurants answered no, and only six responded that they did. These six discounted places were Waffle House, Jack’s, Zaxby’s, Rice Box, Texas Roadhouse and Sam’s Sports Grill.
“I think that it is a little strange that more locations in Florence don’t offer student discounts or incentives,” said freshman Adrien Ross said. “With UNA being at the heart of the historical district in Florence, one would think that the city would revolve around and support students of the university. I am an employee at the Taco Bell on Court Street, which is not even a whole half mile from campus and we offer several discounts but not one for University students.”
Ross said from a business standpoint, he believes offering discounts and incentives for students would encourage them to spend money at the business.
“I don’t believe that students should have discounts at fast food places because they offer ads and promotions so frequently that there’s always a discount on it,” said freshman Imani Elliot said. “They should have certain days where they get things cheaper, like Yogurt Mountain or Topgolf, but as for college students getting discounts for just going to college, I don’t think that’s fair.”
Elliot said if the meal is more expensive, then yes, students should get a discount on it. As for a four or five dollar meal, she said she has a question: do college students really need discount on that?
Associate Professor of Culinary Arts Prema Monteiro said yes and no on whether or not restaurants should give student discounts.
“Yes, insofar as the fact that many fast food chains and restaurants give discounts to households, send mailers, etc.,” Monteiro said. “So why not students? No, because students can easily get these discounts from various sources if they want them. There is nothing like learning how to be thrifty and resourceful. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Time is money.’”
Restaurants are not the only option for students.
“We are so blessed in America. Food is relatively inexpensive,” Monteiro said. “Scan the weekly grocery store flyers for deals and stock up. Eggs have high quality protein, are versatile and quick to cook. Get some eggs, combine them with other weekly fruit and veggies specials, frozen ready cooked sausage links or brats, and veggies, and you’re in business. It is as simple as that. Bananas are 43 to 53 cents a pound. No fuss, no muss.”
Monteiro said the combinations are endless.
“For a healthy stir-fry toss leftover chicken with chopped fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, onions, and a package of mixed frozen veggies, and for a few cents you have a tasty meal in minutes,” Monteiro said. “Then again, dollar-wise, how can you beat Burger King’s 10 nuggets for a dollar?”