Mandatory campus meal plans have some students questioning the value of meals

By on September 20, 2012

U of L provides more options for using flex points while requiring on-campus students to buy more meal swipes

By Tyler Mercer–

At the University of Louisville, every student is required to purchase a meal plan. Specifically, the U of L Dining Services webpage states, “Meal plans are mandatory for all campus residents, regardless of course load, and for all commuter students” who meet three requirements. Any commuter who has a full-time course load, 12 hours, attends nine of those hours on the Belknap campus and lives off campus must purchase a commuter meal plan.

Commuter student Megan Aldridge, a senior health and human performance major, said of mandatory meal plans, “I like the fact that I have some money on my meal card, especially when I forget to bring my debit cards or cash.”

For those like Megan, having a meal card is a comfort when rushing to school because  traffic becomes a problem. Students never have to worry about forgetting to get cash out when his or her meal card has money on it.

Students who live on campus need the meal plan to eat the majority of the meals they eat during the week. Lunch at The Ville Grill uses what is referred to as a “swipe” while picking up a meal from somewhere else on campus, for example food from the SAC, uses flex money.

The default meal plan for students in a residence hall without a personal kitchen; such as Community Park, Threkheld or Miller Hall; is from the $1,460 tier and it comes with 110 meals and $610 flex points for each semester. Students living in halls with personal kitchens choose from the $930 tier. The default plan for this tier includes $930 Flex points and no meals. These plans can be upgraded, however, to add more flex points and/or meals.

However, there are those who find that they are forced to get more swipes than they use. Swipes can only be used at The Ville Grille and, with such a limited amount of places to use them, many go to waste. These meal swipes do not roll over to the next semester – when classes end, they disappear. Many students find themselves selling or giving away swipes to friends in order to use them before it’s too late.

With all the flex options on campus, some students need more flex than previously believed. Mallory Niemer, a sophomore psychology major, says, “The meal plan is convenient. However, it could be improved if we were given more flex dollars and [fewer] meals, and if we are paying as much as we do, we should have more of a say in how we spend it.” The Nest, located on the ground floor of Louisville Hall, sells snacks, food to prepare meals and household items like soap;  it accepts flex dollars for payment.

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Photo: Flickr/UniversityofLouisville

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