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MEAL PLANS MOO-VING OFF CAMPUS

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Wesley Sherow signed up for his own meal plan months after graduating UAlbany.

Despite working at Globalfoundries with a nanoengineering degree, the 22-year-old graduate isn’t focused on a future in engineering. Sherow spends his time outside of work in Malta focused around his startup, Moo Plans, an alternative meal plan startup currently run by UAlbany students and recent alumni.

Living in the boiler room of his apartment in Albany, Sherow cuts costs to save money for his startup despite making above average entry level salary at Globalfoundries. His earnings as a processing engineer, outside of living expenses, are mostly pushed into Moo Plans.

Although Sherow devotes much of his time and money outside of engineering to Moo Plans, he prefers to go without a title.

“I’m not the president,” he said. “I’m just a kid who’s trying to bring affordable meal plans to college students.”

The startup is centered around discounted food delivery from local restaurants such as Bomber’s Burrito Bar and Healthy On Lark. Restaurants under the plan lower their prices up to 50 percent to attract student customers.

This semester, Sherow hopes Moo Plans will challenge the way food service operates for the UAlbany campus community. Moo Plans will petition on campus for residential students to have alternative meal plans. Meal plans at UAlbany from Sodexo are currently over $2,000 per semester for residential students.

Karl Luntta, director of communications and marketing denied Sherow’s claim that students are mostly dissatisfied with meal plans on campus and mentioned that the University makes accommodations for students to select flexible meal plans.

“If students have another meal plan and they are guaranteed to be fed and there’s no real downside to it, they should be able to get an alternative,” said Sherow.

Prior to Moo Plans, Sherow was unsure about the pace of his own future. Looking to make higher earnings after college he decided to apply to the former College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). Sherow was denied admission twice, before getting in with an appeal letter.

Lacking interest in his program, Sherow was more dedicated to work outside of the classroom rather than academics.

“Once I got to the beginning of college, I wanted to do something really cool with my life and attending classes wasn’t one of them,” said Sherow.

Becoming interested in entrepreneurship, Sherow started his first startup, Arcponics, selling hydroponic products. Sherow believes the startup failed to take off because his team at CSNE wasn’t able to devote their attention to Artponics.

“I was okay sacrificing a little bit of my GPA to do this venture, but they weren’t so after that people who were passionate about it were gone so it wasn’t worth it,” he said.

With the CSNE split, Sherow found a new opportunity to push forward a startup. The first freshman class at SUNY Polytechnic last fall were housed in a hotel with a meal plan that included 80 meals per semester.

Having listened to complaints from SUNY Polytechnic freshman running out of meals for the semester, he decided to test an alternative meal plan.

“It was just a mix of circumstances happened to compliment each other,” said Sherow.

After testing out the idea on SUNY Polytechnic freshman, Sherow decided to move his focus towards turning the meal plans into a business venture. Receiving feedback from beta tests over the last year, Sherow grew increasingly confident in his idea for Moo Plans.

Unlike Artponics, Sherow has more confidence in his team of marketers and developers from the university, which currently make commission-based compensation.

“With this however, the people who are passionate about it are still passionate about it and everybody I talk to is saying that this a great idea and that it could change how meal plans work,” he said.

Currently, 100 students have signed up for the meal plan since the business launched early this summer. If the startup grows this semester, he aims to expand Moo Plans to serve other college communities across the Capital Region as far as RPI.

“My intentions now are to take Moo Plans as far as it is going to go,” he said. “I really think it can go all the way.”

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Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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