The University Corporation is changing the meal plan Dining Dollars program for Fall 2006 to make it available for use in almost all of the campus eateries, in addition to officially opening the program to all students, said David Nirenberg, director of commercial services for the University Corporation.
The meal plan Dining Dollars, which was formerly available for use only at Geronimo’s, located in the Satellite Student Union, and The Pub Sports Grill, located in the University Student Union, will now be available for use everywhere except for Subway and Jamba Juice, said Nirenberg. Additional eateries available include Burger King, the Sierra Marketplace, the Orange Grove Bistro at the University Club on the southeast corner of the campus, the Freudian Sips, and the five convenience stores located on campus, according to a packet given out with the meal plan contracts.
The University Corporation, which has been responsible for the meal plan for about three years now, decided to increase the scope of the Dining Dollars because of a large demand from students to make it more flexible, said Nirenberg. “It’s really targeted to make it more advantageous for the students,” he said.
For some students, however, this is not enough. Ana Ortiz, 17, freshman food sciences and nutrition major, said she wouldn’t use the expanded options. “I just eat sandwiches and cereal,” she said.
Yuri Treminio, junior journalism major, said that the variety of food might still be lacking. “They’re fine, but I don’t necessarily want orange chicken everyday,” she said.
In addition to opening up more eateries to the meal plan, the University Corporation is officially making the meal plan available for all students, as opposed to just those in the dorms, though residents will remain the focus, Nirenberg said. “We want to take care of the people in the residence halls as best we can,” Nirenberg said. “If we find we have extra capacity, we’ll do some advertising.”
Nirenberg said he doesn’t think this will have a large impact on how many meal plans will be bought this semester, which he estimates to be from 350 to 500 students. While not expecting a surge in the number of non-residents using the meal plan, Nirenberg said that they are the ones who could profit the most from the changes. “They’re the ones who will realize the benefits,” he said.
Hector Camarena, 33, senior sociology major, said that, while he personally doesn’t need it, if he didn’t work full-time he might consider purchasing a meal plan. “If I was a starving student that would be a pretty damn good deal,” he said.
Instead, Nirenberg said that non-residents would opt to use a new program that the University Corporation will be introducing called the A La Carte program. Instead of signing a contract with the University Corporation, students will be able to go into any campus eatery and purchase A La Carte card, said Nirenberg. The card, which can be charged with a minimum of $35 and a maximum of $300, will be usable in all the same places as the Dining Dollars. “It’s not a meal plan, like the regular meal plan,” Nirenberg said, “but a declining balance card, like a gift card.”
This program sounds better to Camarena. “It’s more convenient,” he said. “Instead of carrying cash you can just swipe the card.”
Treminio thinks that, even without having to pay for the whole meal plan, eating on campus just isn’t worth it. “I’m not going to pay for things that cost the same as a better place,” she said.
Still, Nirenberg said he is hopeful more people will be interested in the meal plan. He said, “We’d like to think more students would see it as a viable food option.”
The meal plan has three different options, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, according to a packet given out with the meal plan contract. All three allow the buyer 10 meals a week at Geronimo’s, though uneaten meals do not roll over to the following week, according to the packet. In addition, unused Dining Dollars are non-refundable. The Bronze, the most inexpensive of the three, costs $1,275 per semester and allows for 575 Dining Dollars, according to the packet. The Silver, which is recommended for those who will be on campus five days a week and have varying work and school schedules, costs $1,375 per semester and allows for 675 Dining Dollars, according to the packet. The Gold, which is recommended for students on campus five days a week, costs $1,475 per semester and allows for 775 Dining Dollars. For more information, call the Meal Plan Office at (818) 677-2655.