INQUIRING MINDS: Meal plans leave residents wanting

Each year, a significant number of juniors and seniors disappear from residence halls. For some, off-campus housing may be a step toward independence or just more affordable. But one factor that seems to motivate a majority of the off-campus movers is food. Eastern’s meal plans are rather inconvenient.

A first-year’s only option is to pay $1,725 for the full 20-meal plan. Unless touring with admissions, visiting friends and family must pay the $7.50 dinner price, for example, with cash or E-card, using about a fifth of the semester’s $36 flex “Eagle” dollars.

Messiah College grants every first-year 10 guest meals a semester and $100 flex with their $1,580 plan. Messiah first-years also have the option of saving money by eliminating weekend meals.

Among other plans, Messiah offers their upperclass students a 50 or 75 meal-per-semester plan for $1,245, with either $550 or $600 in flex. Eastern offers a similar plan for commuters, but resident students get no such offer.

Eastern’s dining hours are also a major hassle. Some students have night classes from 4:30 to 7 p.m Granted, the cafeteria is open a half hour before these classes start, but how many people actually eat the last meal of the day at 4 p.m. and are satisfied for the rest of the night? Other options, Breezeway and Eagle’s Nest, require cash or “Eagle” dollars, and do not count as a meal from the plan.

Messiah College recently changed their cafeteria hours so that students can be allowed limitless daily cafeteria access from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Missed meals are another problem. A majority of first-years never go to breakfast and eat only 202 of the semester’s 280 meals, leaving 78 unused prepaid meals. No extra meals are allowed to be used the following week, be used as guest meals or be given to another student in need. Flex dollars that remain at the end of the semester are also non-refundable.

On the 12 meal plan, upperclass students eliminate 112 meals a semester. At an average of $6 a meal, they should be saving $672. Instead, the price difference between a full plan and a partial plan is a mere $68.

We realize students do not know Sodexho’s budget plan or the cost of running a college food service. Profits have to be made, but we feel as though there could be a fairer distribution. Students who live on campus but are hardly present like athletes, interns and apartment residents, deserve a third option.

Inquiring Minds is the collective opinion of the editorial staff and not necessarily representative of the entire staff. It is written biweekly by the Managing Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.

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