Letter to the Editor: Meal plan problems

Haley DeBauche, Letter Author

I am currently a sophomore at UW Oshkosh, and I have had multiple issues with determining what type of meal plan option is best for me. There are a few different options, but none of them fit my financial and personal preferences, and other students have agreed with me and have encountered the same issues.

Since the beginning of my academic career at UWO, I have heard about meal plan issues from multiple people, such as friends, roommates, and other UWO students. The issue of money and usefulness always tends to be a consistent concern amongst these individuals – myself included.

The usefulness and cost of the plans is the main issue that I would like to address. The meal plan options have changed just in my two short years here at UWO, and I am sure they will continue to change, but the options are not changing in the areas that are most important to college students: usefulness and cost.

I am aware that the university does offer restricted meal options for students with dietary restrictions and allergies, although it is a hassle for the students to go through this process, and there is always a chance that the student may not like the meal they are offered with those restrictions. This is an issue of usefulness and is being utilized to the student’s full potential.

There are a few different solutions that should be implemented to encourage students to utilize their meal plans and be cost-effective. The first solution is to implement cheaper meal plan options.

I understand the need for a meal plan for individuals on campus, but not all students utilize the meal plan and it becomes a financial issue. Personally, I utilize the platinum meal plan which is 100 meals for $1,000 dollars. I am in week 11 of the academic semester and I have 80 meals remaining.

This seems like a waste of money to me, and I wish I could do something different. The meal plans to me are more expensive than they need to be for how much they are utilized overall.

A solution to the cost issue would be to create smaller meal plan packages for students or don’t require a meal plan option at all. I understand the financial aspect that the meal plans have on the university, but it is not fair to the students financially.

Meal plans could determine if a student comes to UWO or not. They may have been impacted by the pandemic in some way and may not be financially stable.

Implementing a meal-by-meal option could be an option, where a student can pay for the meals as they go or add them to their account, and at the end of the semester, it can be paid for. Plenty of students across campus have this issue and end up purchasing their own groceries each week and spending even more money that the majority of college students don’t have.

This year will be my last year of having a meal plan on campus, but I just want to try and help the future UWO students prepare for how meal plans are utilized and the cost of each meal plan, and what it entails. Students may be picky eaters or only prefer certain things and this can lead to the “freshman 15” due to students eating pizza and burgers every day because that is the main source of food the dining hall offers.

Overall, a solution to this issue could be solved by simply asking the students who have meal plans what they would think of offering smaller packages and simply what they think of their options in general. Future UWO students should be aware of what they are getting into and be prepared.