Dining Services introduces new meal deal
The new meal plan is in! Dining services is offering block plans for the new semester, and there are mixed reviews about how the changes will affect students.
The most recent major change is the re-implementation of block plans which has some students wondering how Dining Services has implemented them and how they will work.
Last year students may have noticed that all of the meal plans were declining balance. This year Dining Services is offering two plans that offer Munch Money only and three options that include blocks. A “declining balance” is when a a certain amount of money is put onto a student’s card, and the student is allowed to spend money with the card anywhere on campus at prices that the university sets. A block plan allows a student to have a certain amount of “blocks” which can be traded in for meals under a certain price.
As of Fall semester this year, there will be five plans available ranging from $2,160 to $570. Block 105 costs $2,160, offers 105 meals and $1,350 in Munch Money. Block 75 also costs $2,160 and offers only 75 meals but makes for that with $1,550 in Munch Money. The Blue Plan costs $1,895 and is strictly a Munch Money plan for students who might not need a set amount of meals for the semester.
The Gold Plan costs $945 and also doesn’t have meals included, but is offered only to students who live in the Wickersham or Cutler buildings. Last and least expensive is the$570 Block 30 plan, which offers 30 meals and $300 in Much Money for commuter students only.
One of the benefits of the new meal plans for students is the discount offered for purchasing larger meal plans. If a student purchases Block 105, for instance, they will pay $2,160 but will receive in return $840 worth of standard dinner meals and $1,350 worth of Munch Money, totaling a $2,190 value. This discount is meant to benefit the students by offsetting meal costs.
Another very new benefit that students will be able to take advantage of is the “all-you-care-to-eat” meal. This entails students being able to return to the meal line for seconds, thirds and so on. This new feature is slightly different than “all-you-can-eat,” in that the Dining Services Administration will not allow students to pack up a to-go box of food to bring home with them for later. If students prefer to eat in their dorm room or elsewhere, they are allowed to pack up one meal in a to-go box and take it with them, but they will be charged for another meal if they want a second serving to go.
This new opportunity is intended for students to consume everything they care to eat in the same sitting inside the cafeteria area only. Dining Services offers the playful, almost parental slogan, “Let us do the dishes” to promote the “sit-in only” idea.
Students have expressed concern about the areas that need improvement. Students with block structure meal plans will only be able to use those allotted meals for dinner, which doesn’t start until 4:30 p.m. They are however encouraged to use their Munch Money to purchase breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the semester anywhere on campus, and a few places off campus.
Students have expressed they would prefer to have there be no dinner start time and for there to be a charge-all-day system like last year. Students said that maybe a two-swipe minimum could be implemented so that students can choose two meals per day.
This concern has grown because of last year’s issue where students had an excess of Munch Money toward the end of the year and were having to intentionally spend on non-essentials as to not waste their already invested money. The new block schedule was implemented for this exact reason. Students were ending up with extra Munch Money and the Administration saw that offering block plans once again may solve the problem.
Whether the startup time is going to be a pressing issue or if the plan as a whole will be beneficial to students has yet to be seen. So far, UAF Dining Services has implemented a structured plan that attempts to meet the everyone’s needs. If the current plan structure works well, than students may see some small adjustments, but if not students will might see a whole structure again next year.