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A Plenary resolution for a fairer meal plan

The current pricing and housing requirements for the student meal plan is flawed and a drain on the wallets of students and their parents. Simply put, students on the full meal plan pay more per meal than students on the partial meal plan, often paying for meals they don’t eat.

Dining Services should change its policies to allow more choices for food on campus. I’ve submitted a Plenary resolution to that effect, and I hope you’ll join me by supporting it.

Here are the facts:

  • All first-year students at Haverford are required to be on the full meal plan.
  • All upper-class students of the College living on campus but not in HCA, 710, or Ira de A. Reid House are required to be on the full meal plan.
  • The full meal plan currently costs $2860.00 per student per semester and includes $50 at the Coop and six guest swipes, or an average cost of approximately $8.62 per meal, three meals per day for six days a week, two meals per day on Sundays, and using all six guest swipes.
  • The 85-, 150- and 175-meal partial meal plan options, have per meal costs of $8.06, $7.00, and $6.74 respectively.

As we can see with the pricing of the various partial meal plan options, the per-meal price goes down when meals are purchased in larger and larger quantities. I live in Leeds and have to buy the full meal plan, so even if I eat more than 300 meals a semester at the Dining Center, I’m paying more per meal than a student on the partial meal plan. I could just move to the apartments and shut up, but that still leaves hundreds of other students who are getting screwed. The current per-meal pricing and housing requirements which force most students to pay for meals they don’t eat are unfair and and flawed policies.

My Plenary resolution asks for a restructuring of the meal plans which addresses the two main problems with them as they are today.

First, it asks for more dining flexibility for students who are currently required to be on the full meal plan. Second, it asks for the current price discrepancies to be fixed. That second part might mean lowering the cost of the full meal plan or unfortunately raising the cost of the partial meals plans, or a combination of both. I leave it up to Dining Services and the Dining Services Development Committee to make a fiscally sound decision.

You might ask why the housing/meal plan requirements shouldn’t be dissolved altogether. Ideally, that would allow students to pick the meal plan that best suits their needs, but Bi-Co Director of Dining Services Bernie Chung-Templeton has told me that option is probably not financially feasible, and some compromise will have to be reached. That is why the resolution also directly addresses the disparity between what people on the full and partial meal plans pay per meal.

Chung-Templeton has also told me that while my ideal situation isn’t feasible, Dining Services is already open to less disruptive changes, such as adding more “Coop Cash” to the full meal plan. Hopefully, with the weight of a Plenary resolution, more significant changes to the meal plan might be made as well.

But what of the up-campus students who might be free to drop the meal plan or move to a partial meal plan after this restructuring? Where would they eat? They might still eat at the Dining Center. Or maybe they’ll eat at Chipotle every day. Or they could get microwaveable meals from Trader Joe’s. Or they could eat at The Coop. I don’t think that this resolution will cause any students to starve from abandoning the meal plan and being unable to find food to eat. We are not so stupid that free choice will result in us choosing to starve.

All I am looking to do is make Haverford’s dining options more fairly priced, giving students more freedom of choice and saving us money. The resolution isn’t offering up firm solutions, but rather leaving that to Dining Services, who know much better than I do how the meal plan can be restructured.

I hope that you will sign my petition to have this resolution debated at Plenary, and I hope that you’ll vote for it at Plenary as well.

Full text of the resolution below:

Plenary Resolution – Fair meal plans

Whereas all first-year students at Haverford are required to be on the full meal plan,

Whereas all upper-class students of the College living on campus but not in HCA, 710, or Ira de A. Reid House are required to be on the full meal plan,

Whereas the full meal plan currently costs $2860.00 per student per semester and includes $50 at the Coop and six guest swipes, resulting in an average cost of approximately $8.62 per meal at a rate of three meals per day six days a week, two meals per day on Sundays, and using all six guest swipes,

Whereas the partial meal plan options “85 Meal Declining Balance Plan,” “150 Meal Declining Balance Plan,” and “175 Meal Declining Balance Plan” have per meal costs of $8.06, $7.00, and $6.74 respectively.

Be it resolved that:

  • The student body requests that Dining Services and all other relevant departments of the College, in consultation with the Dining Services Development Committee, restructure the full and partial meal plan options in order to provide more dining flexibility for students regardless of where they live and address the difference in the per meal price between the full and partial meal plans. This restructuring could include taking steps such as, but not limited to, removing the requirement that some students subscribe to the full meal plan, adding more “Coop Cash” to meal plan options, or allowing students who would currently be required to be on the full meal plan to be on a partial meal plan instead.

Students proposing Plenary resolutions are welcome submit their own ideas to hcclerk@gmail.com.