How much of your meal plan was wasted?
Many on-campus students do not completely use their mandatory meal plans, resulting in countless wasted Pirate Bucks and Cafeteria swipes.
The University offers eight different plans to pick from, which have different options for Pirate Bucks and meal swipes. Dining options on campus include the Dining Hall, Commuter Cafeteria, the Cove and Dunkin Donuts.
“All, but one of our meal plans are offered to resident students. The seventh meal plan is the only one that is offered to commuter students and off campus students who live in the residence halls Turrel Manor and Ora Manor,” Tara Hart, Director of Housing and Residence Life, said.
“Since they have kitchen facilities they can opt out of the larger meal plans that are for other on campus residents.”
Prices for the meal plans range from $1,805 to $2,923 a semester, but some students have been finding that a lot of their meal plan money is going to waste. Fourteen meals a week may not sound like a lot of meals, but many students begin to see that making it to the Dining Hall 14 times a week is actually a struggle.
Alexandera Urbanski, a freshman Occupational Therapy major, said that she feels like she is wasting her meal swipes because she is not using them all.
“Inconvenient times sometimes prevent me from making it to the dining hall. Sometimes I have class or something else I have to do,” Urbanski said. “Also, I’m not too excited to eat at the dining hall because sometimes it’s not really the best.”
Urbanski, who has Meal Plan V, said that at first she was afraid that she was not going to have enough meal swipes to get her through the week, but now she thinks differently.
“When I first came to school I thought I was going to use way more meal swipes because I thought I was going to go to the dining hall for all three meals, but that’s just not realistic. Snacks and foods in my dorm keep me from going to the dining hall, too. Sometimes I’ll just eat in the dorms and won’t be hungry enough to go to the dining hall,” Urbanski said.
Urbanski said that she only uses about 10 of her 14 meal swipes a week. Each meal swipe costs about $8.66, which means Urbanski is wasting about $34.64 a week in unused meal swipes.
Nicole Pachner, and senior theology major, is in a similar situation. Pachner has Meal Plan V and only uses about 10 of her 14 swipes.
“I feel like I can’t make it to the caf a lot because of the closing hours,” Pachner said. “Sometimes I can’t get to the caf because I have class during the only times it’s open, lunch especially.”
“Some advice I would have for incoming freshman is that you aren’t going to use as many meal swipes that you would think. Get a plan with more bucks because you tend to use them a lot more,” Pachner said.
Emily Peterson and Michael Bachrach have a different opinion than Urbanski and Pachner. Neither Peterson nor Bachrach believes that they are wasting their meal plan. Peterson, a freshman biology major, said she tries to go to the dining hall once or twice a day.
“I use the dining hall because it feels like it’s free. It’s a buffet, so it’s all you can eat. I feel like I’m getting more from eating in the dining hall then when I buy food using Bucks,” Peterson said.
Peterson has Meal Plan III and said that she has about 70 meal swipes left for use this semester.
Bachrach, a junior Sociology major, has the same meal plan and amount of meal swipes left as Peterson. Meal Plan III costs $1,805 and gives 160 meal swipes a semester, making each swipe about $11.28. Even though Peterson and Bachrach do not think they are wasting their swipes, they have about $789.69 worth of unused meal swipes left.
“I tried to save my bucks as much as I could, but I ended up using them all by about February. About the entire month of February I used only Bucks and spent all of my time in the Cove and Commuter Cafeteria, so I ended up barely using my meal swipes when I still had bucks,” Bachrach said.
“I think meal plans can be made better, though. Basically, people who live on campus should have a larger amount of Pirate Bucks because we are constantly on campus and the dining hall isn’t open all of the time,” Bachrach said. “I feel like we don’t get enough pirate bucks and that there should be a meal plan with more bucks than swipes for those who prefer not eating in the dining hall.”
“One of the most important and fundamental things for students to be aware of is the value of the meal plan and how to maximize it,” Hart said, giving advice to students who want to avoid wasting their meal swipes.
“One of the services that GDS provides is the boxed lunch option. For students that do not have time to go into the dining hall for lunch, they can actually go into the gourmet dining website and select a premade meal that they can pick up and take with them, paid for by a meal swipe.”
Some students may find the meal plans as wastes of money, but others do not feel the same. Hart does encourage students who want to advocate change within Dining Services to work with the Student government Association.
“Work with the campus leaders, like the Student Government Association. By working with the SGA students will be able to connect to administration and voice what their needs are,” said Hart.
Ashley Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org