Dining Services Changes Meal Plans

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Dining Services unveiled new student meal plans and dining periods on Tuesday, April 29, which will be available to students beginning in the Fall 2014 semester.

Errol Huffman, director of Dining Services, said that the aim for the new meal plans was to add value for students without forcing them to incur additional costs. Each of the four student meal plan options has been amended to give students more purchasing power and flexibility.

The traditional plan has been replaced by the Any 20 plan, which lifts time restrictions on meal periods and allots 20 meals for students to use any point during the week. Huffman says that the one restriction of the Any 20 plan is that students cannot use meal swipes to buy meals for guests.

The most significant change to the Flexboard plans is the creation of a new type of point system called Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars are included in the new Flexboard I and II plans and the Apartment Flex Plan. Unlike Flex Dollars, Dining Dollars can only be used in cash operation dining services facilities.

“Dining Dollars cannot be spent in the Devil’s Den or bookstore,” Huffman said. “We want students to spend it in cash operations facilities like the Quarry, Biblio, Underground, SNAR and the Kline Juice Bar.”

The flex point and flex dollar balance on Flex I has remained unchanged, and a $75 dining dollars balance has been added. 150 points have been deducted from the Flex II plan, but that loss is compensated by a $500 dining dollar balance.

The only meal plan that has increased in cost is the Apartment Flex plan. Though the price of the meal plan has risen by $400, dining services has attached $1,500 in Dining Dollars. According to Huffman, the Dining Dollars will be useful for students with special dietary restrictions, who often move into apartments and enroll in the Apartment Flex meal plan.

“[Dining Dollars] gives students the opportunity to come to us and use us as a grocery store,” Huffman said. “If a student wants to buy a special food because [they] have dietary restrictions… [Dining Services] will buy bulk [products] and charge [them] the cost plus 30 [percent], which is a handling charge. It will be cheaper than going to a grocery store.”

Huffman says that this is an existing service that he hopes to highlight and expand in the coming academic year.

The final change is the creation of a new meal period. The Late Night Snack Option will begin after dinner closes at 8 p.m. The new meal option will cost three flex points for students on the Flexboard plans and count as one meal swipe for students on Any 20.

Huffman, who assumed the position of Dining Services Director on Dec. 1, 2013, said that one of the first issues he noticed on campus was students’ perception of the value of their meal plans. Huffman and the members of Food Advisory Committee developed the new meal plans throughout the spring semester. Huffman said that he also drew upon his experience developing meal plans during his time at Indiana University, where he served as assistant director of Business Operations before coming to Dickinson.

The price of a student meal plan for the 2014-2015 academic year is $5,798. This figure represents a $196 increase from the meal plan costs for the 2013-2014 academic year, but Huffman said that the increase reflects yearly adjustments made to keep costs in line with inflation.

“The trustees did raise the price of the meal plans to reflect cost of living and inflation, so the meal plans were going to be 5,798 irrespective of what we did, even if we left the meal plans the same,” Huffman said.