Even though meal plans are mandatory for freshmen living on-campus, many still don’t know how they work.
Known as the 60-40 meal plan, 60 percent of the cost goes to Dining Services and the other 40 percent goes is available to purchase food that’s sold at 40 percent of it’s normal price.
Currently, the plan comes in two versions. Plan A is $1,780 per semester and Plan B is $2,460 per semester.
The 60 percent of the cost that goes to Dining Services is used to cover labor, supplies, maintenance, and utilities for the dining hall. Any of the remaining 40 percent that isn’t used by the end of the semester goes back to the students.
For the 2020-2021 year, meal plans will be changing. There will be three plans offered: Plan A at $1,835 per semester, Plan B at $2,185 per semester, and Plan C at $2,535 per semester. The new intermediate plan between the highest and lowest options comes from complaints about the current Plan A being too little to spend and the current Plan B being too much.
This additional plan has yet to be approved by the SIUE Board of Trustees. If it isn’t approved, students who purchase Plan B for the upcoming semester will instead receive Plan A.
According to Christy McDougal, accountant for the Morris University Center Business Office, students used to not get their money back at the end of the semester until Jim McDermott, former Business Manager of the Morris University Center, designed the current plan. McDougal said it was a more reasonable structure.
“If a student made a decision to want to go off campus with friends or go home, they still recoup the cost of the food, but Dining Services was able to keep the 60 percent because they were here, they prepared the food, they had the food waiting for the student, and they had the labor,” McDougal said.
The current plan has been criticized as misleading. While the food is discounted at 40 percent of the original price, students are still paying for the rest of it up front with the 60 percent of their plan that goes to the school. Others are upset to be forced into a meal plan at all.
Freshman German major Ethan Anderson, of Springfield, Illinois, is one of the students upset about the plan. He said the discount seems good but can be detrimental.
“It’s nice thinking you get a discount of course, but when you don’t actually get the discount, we have to pay all the extra money up front and take out extra loans and that’s not really a good thing,” Anderson said.
On the other side, freshman undeclared major Andrew Sorenson, of Springfield, Illinois, said he appreciates the plan for its convenience.
“I like having it,” Sorenson said. “I mean, obviously I’m going to have to pay all the money back eventually anyways, but it’s nice getting to come here and get good food for what is essentially cheaper than I normally would without the meal plan.”
Freshman elementary education major Nicole Obert, of Quincy, Illinois, also appreciates the plan. She said any flaws don’t bother her.
“I think it’s fine. It’s just like when you’re getting it you don’t even think about it. You just see that nice discount,” Obert said.
Students who want to learn more about Dining Services can check out their website.