If you lived in a dorm freshman year you were required to choose a meal plan. Moving forward, you can understand why many students opt out of a meal plan after being released from this obligation.
While I am not a freshman living on Main Campus, I still have the 30-block meal plan and receive criticism from friends. As they raise valid points about the quality of Sodexo food and the prices, I find myself wondering why I, and other students, continue to purchase meal plans.
Meal plans are marketed as being a frugal way to eat, but I find that hard to believe. The money that we spend on a meal plan does not balance the amount of quality or quantity of food we receive. For the majority of meal periods students receive $7.20 to spend on food. This is a real deal at an all you can eat setting like Johnson and Hardwick cafeteria, but when it comes to the Student Center it can be a real rip off. If a student purchases a combination meal it may be justified, but when you want to buy a drink, fruit cup, and a salad you go over the limit because a fruit cup is priced so highly. Single items like milk, fruit, chips or salads are overpriced.
Instead of being subjected to the overpriced food items, take advantage of the more realistically priced items outside the SAC at the food trucks. For example, at Eddie’s food truck you can purchase a cheeseburger, fries and a can of soda for $4.50 or two slices of plain pizza and a can of soda for $4, yet meal plans are suppose to save students’ money.
Perhaps the most inefficient part of the meal plan is that unused meals don’t roll over to the next week. This is a real problem for freshman and students who do not have the block meal plans. With a regular meal plan you receive a certain amount of meals per week and if you do not use them up by the end of the week they are gone for good. Ideally students should not be penalized for not using all of their daily meal swipes. Money is far too precious to go to waste.
I understand that after long hours spent in the TECH Center the last thing most students want to do is cook and having a meal plan is probably the most convenient way to take care of hunger cravings, but if you do the math it’s better off going around the overpriced meal plans that Sodexo offers. Maybe it’s a reflection of our society as a whole, that we are always on the go and it’s easier for someone else to make our food, but it should not be at an excessive price.
While Sodexo is a business and it’s their priority to make a profit off of the food they sell, should it be at the student’s expense? Instead of marketing meal plans as the frugal way to eat, it would be better if Sodexo stressed the importance of convenience.
Ultimately it’s up to the students on how they are going to spend their money on food, but because I need to start becoming more financially savvy I’m not going to renew my meal plan next year.
Tara Tomasko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.