Three Rivers College
Small School, Big Ideas
At first glance, you may think The College Store at Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, is your standard campus bookstore serving a small community college.
But take a closer look. The College Store may be small, but it has big ideas. One of those big ideas is a payment card program that gives the 3,000 students at the two-year college the ability to use their financial aid and other funds to buy a meal plan not limited to on-campus options.
With the help of local merchants and a partnership with Brentwood, Tennessee-based eCard Systems, The College Store helps students focus on learning by allowing them to use their college-issued card to purchase food, groceries, and fuel for their car to get to class, from dozens of small businesses and food vendors. “We didn’t want a standard meal plan,” explains Bob Jansen, the Director of Retail Operations and a longtime veteran of college bookstores and food service management. “We started with a version of an on-campus card system and modified it to work with a large network of vendors throughout the region. “Working with eCard Systems, Jansen and the school’s leadership have added 30 vendors, giving students access to restaurants, grocery stores and even gas stations. “We also created an Athlete Meal Plan to better manage the plan provided to athletes as part of some athletic scholarships,” he says.
The school also works with a tech startup delivery company carGO Carryout, which integrates the Three Rivers plan into their food delivery app as a form of payment. If you include the number of restaurants the students can use through carGO Carryout, the students can access more than 60 vendors throughout southeast Missouri.
A hidden benefit of the plan is the way in which students can interact with so many different local small businesses instead of a small group of large companies. eCard Systems worked with Jansen to expand the concept of what a meal plan card could be. Jansen is quick to praise the customer service—and increase in revenues—that eCard has helped Three Rivers achieve.
“Of all of the hundreds of vendors The College Store works with in various ways, eCard Systems ranks among the most impressive companies we do business with,” he says. “They’ve helped us save money in administrative and transaction costs, given us more reporting tools and worked with us to build more relationships with area small businesses.”
Such changes are easier when you have big ideas from folks like Bob Jansen and organizations like Three Rivers College. Thanks to his ideas—and the community of Poplar Bluff and beyond—students get to experience benefits far beyond food.