Meal Plan Options Streamlined


Students enjoy a meal in the John and Mary Metz dining hall.

Matt Gromala, Reporter

The university is adding multiple meal plan choices and streamlining the Cougar points system.

Starting this fall, a new unlimited swipes meal plan will be available to all students, replacing an old system that students found somewhat confusing.

The change reduces the number of meal plans from 24 – along with the accompanying letter codes A through X – to just five.

“There was, like, 22 options, when really there were only six plans,” said A.J. Nudo, Assistant Director of Residence Life, about the previous meal plan system.

The old meal plan system ran the gamut of 75 meals to 265 meals. This new series of meal plans offers 75 to 190 meals, followed by the plan with unlimited meals.

However, the 75 meals meal plan is restricted to those who live in dorm rooms with kitchens such as McDowell Hall and the Townhouses.

“It’s about time. There never seems to be enough meal swipes for each semester,” said Jeffrey Li, a third-year healthcare management, doctor of physical therapy major.

Prices on the old series of plans ranged from $2980 per year for the lowest plan, all the way to $5600 for the highest plan.

The five plans that were approved for next year range from $2110 to $5990 per year. So while the lowest plan will now cost less, the tradeoff will be that the highest plan will cost $350 more, though then again the highest plan now has unlimited meal swipes.

“The two upper level plans, which were the ones in the two hundreds, for meals, that has now been changed and it is now one plan, with unlimited meals. And unlimited means that students can swipe in as many times as they want in a day. If they just want to grab a snack, just swipe in, and they can go in and out all day,” said Nudo.

Nudo believes this to be a change for the better, and students seem to share this sentiment.

“It definitely sounds a lot better, especially with the unlimited swipes,” said Jason Hauze, second-year English major.

There are also guest swipes, which will factor in with the new system. Students will be able to swipe in friends and family five times, said Nudo, before being unable to use the guest swipes for that semester.

“Five is a bit unreasonable. If there has to be a limit, I feel they should place it between 20 and 30,” said Li.

The other aspect of the meal plans involves Cougar Points, which is a monetary system used to purchase food at locations other than the main cafeteria when using a meal plan. These locations include The Cougar’s Den in Banks, the Intermetzo Café in Insalaco and a small satellite location in Passan Hall on lower campus.

Previously, the Cougar Points values varied from plan to plan, ranging from $150 in value to $300, depending on the plan. The new plans feature a flat amount of $200 in Cougar Points.

Although students will always have the option to add more onto their plans as the year goes on, the process will be the same as it has always been.

To any students concerned about running out of Cougar Points, Nudo said not to worry.

“They can purchase more dollars if they wish. Just contact Student Financials and have them add more to your account, and you’d have an additional whatever amount you decided to add to your plan,” said Nudo.

The impetus for these changes came from the officials looking beyond the university.

“We were looking at some other schools and their meal plan options, and we had a significant number of more options than these other schools did,” said Nudo.

For students and parents looking to compare the prices, both this years meal plan information and next years are available on MyMu.

“You can find the new pricing online. You can actually compare the old pricing online. Last years as well as the new plans. If you go to our Residence Life page you can find it on there,” said Nudo.

The information is in pdf form, under the Important Information subheading on the Residence Life page.

“We were trying to one, simplify things for students. We also took a look at the cost of it, the two lowest meal plans were looked at in terms of whether it was possible to lower them a little bit. And the two highest level plans weren’t really as purchased, so we wanted to come up with a new one. And one of the things we’ve been seeing out there, is this unlimited option at other schools,” said Nudo.

Students will be able to take advantage of this new system for the first time during the fall 2016 semester.