Mandatory meal plan to be enacted

By on October 6, 2008

By Paige Quiggins

The University of Louisville plans to implement a mandatory meal plan for both resident and commuter students beginning in fall of 2009.
For the 2009-2010 school year, meal plan costs will range from $250 for full time undergraduate non-residents to $1,165 for all residents with kitchens, according to Student Activities Director Tim Moore.
Moore said that the new requirement is based on recent trends in the amount of time students spend on campus.
“Many students are here on campus three days a week at least,” said Moore. “Many more are here five days a week with classes.”
He continued that if a student spends three days on campus per week, as most students currently do, and spend around $6 per day, they will spend $17.36 per week which would use up the entire $250 plan. 
But for students like Michelle Noel, the new meal plan requirement means not only less money in her pocket, but less money to take care of her child.
“My money has to go to my child.  I don’t have money to spend,” Noel, a junior criminal justice major and commuter, said. “Basically, U of L’s food is a little more expensive.  Freshman may need it, but I think anyone else should have the option to not get it.”
Other students like Gretchen Huebner, a freshman communication major and resident, feel that it could be difficult to utilize the plan’s full amount within time constraints.
“I think it is a rip off that we are required to purchase $2,000 worth of food for our freshman year,” said Huebner. “I would never eat this much food and my parents won’t get any of the money that I don’t spend back.”
Moore also said that the declining-balance meal planshave not changed at all from last year. He confirmed that from 2010-2011, meal plans will be $250 for all full-time undergraduate commuters, $1,460 for all residents without kitchens and $930 for residents with kitchens.
The only exemptions for meal plans must be based on religious or medical concerns. Moore also said a special waiver plan is possibly in the works for unique circumstances. 
He also commented that the rise in cost is also planned accordingly to how much food has gone up and how much expansion will be done to accommodate students in the future.
“It’s a little bit of art and a little bit of science based on patterns that we have seen over time, but, also making some predictions about what we will see in the future as well, Moore said. “That’s where we arrive at those numbers.”
Chelsea Brown, a senior political science major and commuter, commented that those who are required to have the plan may not have the time or the means to utilize the entire balance before they graduate and time runs out; thus losing all the money invested. 
Moore stated that the balance will roll over from each semester to the next.
However, each student will be required to purchase a new plan each semester. 
Junior industrial engineering major Andy Eastes commented that the food for both the old contractor Chartwells as well Sodexo was not always what he expected and hopes to see improvement with the future expansion.
“I think it’s over-priced and not good quality,” Eastes said. “The fact that I live off campus, and I have to be required to buy food on campus is unfair.  I live two blocks away I can make my own healthier food at better prices.”
Katie Ross, a freshman biology/chemistry major, said she isn’t upset about the new requirement, but would like to see healthier foods offered with extended hours of operation in various locations.
“I would like more health food to be in the SAC,” Ross, a resident, said, “as would I like the stores on the second floor, [like] the Italian and Chinese places, to be opened for dinner.”
According to Moore, if there is a substantial need for longer hours, the university will do all it can to accommodate the need, as Sodexo is committed to longer hours and better service.
According to the Sodexo contract, students do save six percent sales tax when they use their Cardinal Card to purchase food and can save 10 percent on a voluntary meal card of $25 or more.
For Brown though, the requirement is nothing less than absurd.
“People who don’t live on campus are going to have to eat while they’re there at awkward times or spend money on unhealthy food,” she said. “I can cook at home, that’s healthier and cheaper.”

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