Meal plan insults students’ budgetary, dietary choices
October 10, 2013
With the standard, 14 meals per week plan, students pay slightly over five dollars per meal. Five dollars is not an unreasonable cost for a meal, however, people do not regularly eat two restaurant or fast food meals a day.
At $70 a week, the University’s mandatory meal plan directly insults students’ budgeting and dietary decisions. This adds up to $280 per month, likely more than what an off-campus student would normally spend.
Proponents argue that on a meal plan, students may be encouraged to eat on a more regular basis, however the selection of food offered in Riverside Commons is limited, especially for students with dietary preferences.
Students with allergies or medical reasons may apply for exemption from the meal plan. However, request forms must be submitted at least two weeks before the meal plan starts. A student cannot even determine whether or not the meal plan is right for them fourteen days before they see the eating options.
Students with allergies are encouraged to purchase meal plans because allergy-sensitive dining options are available. However, many of the meals do not consider students with multiple allergies. Riverside Commons offers specifically made gluten-free meals during the lunch and dinner mealtimes, but many of the meals include ingredients that lactose-intolerant or vegetarian students cannot consume.
The commons’ salad bar section does offer allergen-free lettuce and spinach with toppings. The salad bar may offer options for students with allergies, but many toppings which do contain allergens (cheese, cottage cheese, and croutons) spill over the other toppings, rendering them all contaminated and inedible for a student with allergies.
Even students without allergies suffer from the meal plan. The commons boasts of a wide variety of dining options, however, most of the meals are generally the same. Students can choose from salad, pizza, sandwiches and two different specialty meals which change daily.
This semester, the specialty meals have ranged from Philly cheese steak hot dogs in the grill line to beef and cheese nachos by the salad bar. While the meals change frequently, most of them are not healthy. Students who aim for a healthier diet may give up their health-related goals once they tire of salads and sandwiches.
Though the meal plan promotes regular eating habits, the limited options discourage students.
Hannah Timm is a sophomore majoring in professional writing and minoring in creative writing. When she graduates from UWRF, she intends to work as an editor.