Cheaper Meal Plans Would Better Accommodate Students

When it comes to food, UConn offers a fair amount of options for students. Students have access to dining halls, the Union Street Market and other businesses around campus. However, one area that it could certainly use more variety is in the structure of meal plans offered.

Currently, UConn only offers residential students three options for meal plans: the ultimate plan, value plan and custom plan. The plans vary in the number of points and flexes passes they come with, but all three come with unlimited swipes and cost over $2,500 per semester. However, given the rising cost of college, it would be helpful to offer cheaper meal plan options to students.

For starters, while it is nice having unlimited swipes into dining halls, it can be unnecessarily excessive for some students. Some students may not eat breakfast. Others may have a schedule where their meal times fall during the 2 – 4 p.m. period where some dining halls are closed or are limited in offerings. Other students may simply prefer meals that can be purchased with points rather than what is offered at dining halls. In short, there are likely a lot of students that may only use two swipes into a dining hall per day.

As such, one of the options for a cheaper meal plan could be to get rid of the unlimited swipes and offer students a finite number of swipes. For example, UMass has an option for 224 swipes per semester which is a few hundred dollars cheaper than the unlimited option. Boston University offers a meal plan with 14 meals per week, averaging two dining hall meals per day, to go along with dining points. This plan is approximately $300 cheaper than the unlimited plan.

Many universities follow this type of model where meal plans are offered as both unlimited and finite options. It is time for UConn to follow suit. There is nothing wrong with the current set of meal plans, but it would be beneficial to students to offer plans that offer finite set of swipes along with points at a lower cost. Currently there is a cheaper meal plan, but this is without points and is more for commuter students and is not sufficient for students living on campus. Even if the savings differential is only a few $100, it can help families dealing with tuition hikes and other increased costs.

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