Changes to Meal Plans Announced
University Auxiliary Services is marketing meal plan changes expected to dovetail retail dining vendors in the upcoming Campus Center west addition.
Students will pay overhead costs in advance under each new plan, subsidizing retail dining prices with 30 to 50 percent discounts. These funds, “Discount Dollars,” range from $120 to $1,300.
UAS expects discount choices under each plan (myFlex, myChoice, and myUnlimited) will bring students to dine in the Campus Center west addition upon completion. As of now, 17 new and returning venues are anticipated to open in the space come fall.
“We’re doing it to enhance their experience and to do what they’re really looking for in a way the works financially,” said Steve Pearse, director of UAS.
Despite discounts, myUnlimited costs $100 more than the current unlimited plan; the lowest option is $110 more. Two out of five myFlex options cost less than the 175 plan, the second priciest dining plan this year.
MyChoice includes the least expensive option of the three at $750, costing $40 more than the current 50, 30, and 15 plan.
Karl Luntta, director of media relations, told the Albany Student Press last fall that meal plan costs have grown in recent years due to higher wages and rising operational expenses.
So far, the new system has evoked mixed reactions.
“I understand that it’s not going to be super cheap, but I feel like you get a better deal with the discounts,” said Jordan Wablansky, a freshman biology major.
Wablansky was one of over a dozen students to attend a UAS town hall meeting on Thursday. At the forum, Pearse discussed changes from meal plans to new Campus Center venues. Several students were still confused about meal plan changes after the presentation.
Ashley Simon, a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major, welcomes retail dining changes, but also believes that prices must drop across the board in order to attract all students.
“If they want to bring students to the Campus Center, they need to lower prices for everyone,” said Simon.
“Because why would I go to the Campus Center if I could just go to McDonalds?”
Plan changes were first sought after while Dutch Quad’s dining hall awaited closure. Looking to provide residents access to upcoming Campus Center venues, UAS landed on Virginia Tech’s overhead service model. Proposed changes passed the UAS board in December.
Meanwhile, officials have also weighed shutting down Colonial Quad dining services. Cafeteria hours will be shorter next year as UAS expects more upperclassmen to move away from residential dining.
Anthony Caprece, a freshman computer science major, questioned the move away from dining hall services.
“If I’m on Colonial [Quad] and I work over in the business building, I’m not going to walk all the over to Indian [Quad] for breakfast,” said Terece. “Why would I walk to the Campus Center either? It’s just not feasible to me.”
While shifting upperclassmen dining closer to the Campus Center, UAS also plans to move Alumni Quad cafeteria service towards a “food on demand” system. The new dining hall service would allow students to order individual dishes through a touchscreen kiosk.
Pearse expects the system to lower food waste and increase meal quality.