After encouraging students to waste less food in the new trayless initiative, University Housing is implementing unlimited meals with all meal plans.
For the 2014 academic year, all plans will include unlimited meals, a certain amount of Dining Dollars and no Blue Bucks for students living in residence halls and Northwood III Apartments. Blue Bucks will be available for purchase but will not automatically come with any plan.
The unlimited plan will be included in students’ room and board rates. The new offerings also include several different options to balance Dining Dollars and guest meals.
The Bronze Plan comes at no extra cost and will include 25 Dining Dollars and two guest meals. The Silver Plan costs an extra $175 per semester, and will include 200 Dining Dollars and eight guest meals. The Gold Plan costs an extra $275 per term, and will include 300 Dining Dollars and 12 guest meals.
Christine Siegel, senior associate director of housing services, said University Housing has been studying the design of new plans for over a year.
“We want students to feel comfortable that they can eat as often as they like in the dining hall,” Siegel wrote in an e-mail. “We are hoping that the plans will encourage students to use our dining facilities as hubs for socializing and studying.”
Currently, a 125- or 150-block meal plan comes at no extra cost with room and board rates. The 125 plan includes 125 meals, 300 Dining Dollars and 75 Blue Bucks, while the 150-block plan includes 150 meals, 100 Dining Dollars and 100 Blue Bucks. The 200-block plan, Unlimited plan and Unlimited+ plan are available at an extra cost of $143, $420 and $558, respectively, per term.
While Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 off-campus meal plans have yet to be announced, University Housing Spokesman Peter Logan said he tentatively expects to have 50-, 75- and 125-block plans with different amounts of Dining Dollars.
Additionally, University Housing will make significant changes in the function of Dining Dollars and Blue Bucks. Beginning in Fall 2014, Dining Dollars will be accepted at 25 locations inside and outside of residence halls. Blue Bucks will be disconnected from meal plans and will be available for purchase at any time by students, faculty or staff. The use of Blue Bucks will be expanded to items other than food, such as books and equipment rentals.
Currently, Dining Dollars can be used only at residential dining halls, cafés and convenience stores. Blue Bucks are accepted in those places as well as at University Unions, athletic stadiums, library cafes, laundry rooms and dozens of other on-campus locations.
Logan said feedback from the Residence Hall Association and members of the University Housing Student Advisory and Input Group was considered in the process of developing the new meal plans.
“Most students have responded positively — especially in light of the dining renovations and new options that will be available at South Quad,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Student surveys over several years indicated that these plans result in the highest levels of satisfaction.”
Logan added that he has been in contact with other universities across the country to discuss students’ meal plan preferences — with unlimited meal plans largely preferred.
Engineering sophomore Matt Chudoba, who currently lives in Bursley Residence Hall, said he supports the unlimited meal plans. As a freshman living in Mary Markley Residence Hall, Chudoba said the 125-block meal plan provided more than enough Dining Dollars, Blue Bucks and meals, but the same plan is not as effective in Bursley.
However, LSA sophomore Kaia Parenti thought the unlimited meal plans will be unnecessary for some. With her 150-block meal plan, she has only used two-thirds of her meals, and spends Dining Dollars and Blue Bucks a couple of times a week.
While Parenti said she will purchase a Silver or Gold Plan next year to save money, she said she thinks a plan with fewer meals and more Dining Dollars would be a better option for some.
“It really depends on where I’m living but I think overall, I wish I could get more Dining Dollars,” she said. “Twenty-five is nothing. It’s going to last me two weeks.”