Meal plans are not cost effective

Courtney Schuna, Opinion Writer

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The Advance-Titan | Courtney Shuna

We all know that while living on campus, you are required to have a meal plan. However, not all meal plans work for the average college student, and they are not cheap.

The article, “Here’s Why Food Is So Insanely Expensive at College” from Money Magazine written by Tara Garcίa Mathewson, discusses how eating on campus costs more than eating at home.

“The price of a typical college dining hall contract has jumped 47 percent in the last decade, federal data shows,” Mathewson said. “That means undergraduates today appear to be forking out about 85 percent more per day for food on campus than they would likely pay to cook and eat on their own.”

The article, “A Tough-to-Swallow Reason College Keeps Costing More: The Price of Meal Plans” from The Hechinger Report also by Mathewson discusses the impact of these prices to college students.

“While several institutions require in their contracts that these vendors price their meals fairly, there’s no obligation to pass on savings to students,” Mathewson said.

Reeve Memorial Union’s website gives information about all the meal plans offered and what they include.

“All students living on campus are required to have a meal plan. Students with less than 30 credits must choose from our Basic or Deluxe Meal Plans. These options come with a set number of weekly meals that can be used at Blackhawk Commons, [email protected] and Scotty’s Subs and Stuff during normal operating hours and Reeve Union on weekends,” according to the site.

The most cost effective meal plans are the Ultimate Meals, but you are not allowed to have those unless you have at least 30 credits or have lived in the residence halls for more than two semesters.

The prices on these meal plans are expensive, especially for the Basic and Deluxe meal plans that students with 30 credits or less are forced to choose from.

Basic Meal Plans range from $1,447 to $1,647 and they only offer 15 meals per week with 15 bonus meals per semester.
Deluxe Meal Plans are similar to Basic. The only difference is you get 21 meals instead of 15 per week. These prices range from $1,564 to $1,754.

If you don’t use all of your meals every week, meal plans are a waste of your money.

“All unused Ultimate Meals are forfeited at the end of the semester,” according to the site.

With these policies in place, many students find themselves wasting their money. This is true for UW Oshkosh freshman, Karina Hueckman.

“I am a freshman and I can only eat at Blackhawk or Scotty’s; I don’t really use my meal plan on weekends since I work in Appleton,” Hueckman said. “I only use 50 percent of my meal plan.”

Hueckman said she does not agree with the way meal plans are set up.

“I am kind of bothered because I spend more money than I am using, so I am not getting my money’s worth,” Hueckman said.

Many students have echoed this idea. UWO sophomore Micaela Arellano offered a solution to this problem.

“I think having a meal plan should be an option if you want it versus being forced to have it,” Arellano said.

UWO junior Taylor Ambrosius has a similar solution.

“I have heard students complain about being forced into expensive meal plans,” Ambrosius said. “Some things could be cheaper like the veggie cups; the cup was $3.50 but would have been better if it was $2 since it was so small.”

UWO senior Cassie Schacht offered up her idea of a solution to the overpriced meal plans.

“Maybe have more meal plan options for freshmen,” Schacht said. “It would help them get their money’s worth.”

Meal plans need to change to accommodate the students who can’t afford expensive meal plans or who don’t want a meal plan in the first place.