UT, partner with a food delivery company

Michael Lazenby, Columnist

One of the biggest challenges of a student’s transition into college is becoming fully independent. Some are used to their parents cooking meals for them, and many students are away from their parents and simply don’t know how to cook.

Even if students do know how to cook, their time is constricted with completing homework assignments, working part-time or actively participating in extracurriculars. Due to time constraints or lack of cooking experience, students order food from major third-party delivery companies such as DoorDash and UberEats.

While these delivery services can be convenient, they can drain a student’s bank account due to the various exorbitant fees these companies make customers pay.

In order to help students afford convenient eating that works for their schedules, the University should try partnering with delivery companies to offer UT students discounts.

Geography graduate student Bailey Ohlson explained her thoughts on the University pursuing a partnership with a third-party delivery company.

“I think that would be really useful,” Ohlson said. “ I’ve definitely spent a lot of money myself on DoorDash and Grubhub, so it would be nice to have some sort of student accommodations. It’s a struggle finding time to cook, writing my thesis or doing research and then teaching class, you run out of time.”

Time is one of a student’s most valuable assets. Currently, if a student’s available time to prepare a meal becomes too scarce, they could be forced to pay a host of premium-priced delivery fees such as a delivery fee, a regulatory recovery fee, a service fee and a minimum order fee on top of the cost of the meal itself.

Although companies such as DoorDash have announced new student plans, these costs could be reduced even further if the University pursued a partnership with some of the major food delivery companies. Upon signing a deal with a delivery partner, UT could offer students the option to opt into the delivery fee reduction program. The program would involve investments between the University and their delivery partners.

Under the proposed partnership, the University would set aside a portion of available funds and dedicate them to students who opted into the program, covering a majority of their delivery fees incurred when using UT’s delivery partners throughout the academic year.

The University claimed they did not have any specific information on this issue. This could, however, be a feasible venture for the University given their current partnership with rideshare service Lyft.

“Universities typically have a lot of money coming in,” Ohlson said. “I mean, they already budget for it with Lyft, and if they budget for that already, I think they could find it in their budget to do it or at least subsidize the cost for students a little bit if they wanted to.”

UT’s partnership with Lyft is an example of the University focusing on improving students’ lives by making them safer and more hassle-free. Since UT has pursued initiatives that are aimed at investing in students’ well-being in and out of the classroom, food delivery services at reduced rates for students should be no different.

For those who are able to cook, the cost of groceries across the country has increased substantially, leaving students with less options and affordability. In fact, the cost of groceries has reportedly increased nearly 4% in the past few years.

Students are simply running out of options.

The University is used to developing partnerships with proven, reputable and dependable companies. Therefore, UT seeking a partnership with delivery companies doesn’t appear to be a matter of ‘can,’ but ‘if’ the University wishes to put their resources behind such a program.

In order to ease students’ concerns regarding the cost of convenient dining, the University should dedicate a portion of its resources and pursue a partnership that can benefit its students by making their lives easier through student delivery discounts.

Lazenby is an economics junior from Chicago, Illinois.