On campus dining options leave students frustrated
It’s nearing the end of the semester, and that means students are shifting into high gear as they organize study groups and fuel up on caffeine for the next couple of weeks to prepare for final exams. It’s not unusual for students to forget to stop and eat every so often. For the huge population of students living on campus, forgetting to eat will cost them more than they will expect.
According to UH’s Dining Services website, students who do not use all of the “swipes” on their meal plan accounts will lose out. Unlike Cougar Cash, meal plans do not roll over into the next semester and instead just expire.
But where does that money really go? According to Maria Honey, assistant director at Auxiliary Services, the meal plans are priced to cover the overhead costs of running the dining halls for one semester.
“These costs include operating expenses, employee labor and food costs to prepare meals for the estimated number of diners each day,” Honey said.
There are currently 12 meal plans students can chose from that range from the All Access 7, a $1,875.00 plan that allows students the freedom to eat anywhere on campus and enjoy $100 of Cougar Cash to the Select 300, a $300 plan that allows students to eat at any dining hall on campus. Meal plans are mandatory for residents of the Quadrangle, Cougar Place, Moody Towers, and Cougar Village 1 and 2.
Business administration sophomore Adedayo Awosika-Olumo said his experience with the dining halls on campus has been less than satisfactory. After receiving undercooked eggs at Fresh Foods Company, located adjacent to Moody Towers, he said the staff was unapologetic.
“I try not to go to (Fresh Foods),” Awosika-Olumo said. “Customer service in (Fresh Foods) is either really nice or really fake, so it’s kind of a hit or miss. Some of the people are really nice and genuine, but some of the old people there are really mean and rude.”
Students assigned to the Quadrangle, Cougar Place, Moody Towers and Cougar Village 1 & 2 must choose from the All-Access 7, Lifestyle 15, Lifestyle 160 plans or All Cougar Cash plan, which is only available to juniors and above.
Samantha Barron is a freshman kinesiology major that also commutes to campus. Barron said she is dissatisfied with her decision to get a meal plan because she knows she will not use all the swipes she paid for.
“Right now it says I have 45 left, and I’m pretty sure we don’t have 45 days left,” Barron said. “I didn’t anticipate on losing anything. I actually thought it rolled over, and then I realized later that it didn’t, so I’m a little disappointed.”
According to Honey, the gain students receive from using a meal plan outweighs the loss of potential meals.
“Meal plans help students save money, time and stress by providing discounts, ensuring quick and convenient access to meals, and eliminating the need for students to cook and clean up after their own meals,” Honey said.
Others disagree. Freshman computer science major Howard Mokolo said he regrets his decision to use the All-Access plan.
“I thought I was going to be in here a lot since I don’t cook, but it’s not really the case,” Mokolo said. “I’ve maybe used 160 swipes.”
Mokolo said he has over 9,000 possible swipes left over.
“I’m really upset and I’m changing my meal plan next semester,” he said. “I feel if we don’t use the rest of the swipes (that) money should be transferred to our next semester’s school fees. We should get part of our school tuition taken off if we don’t use all of our swipes, cause I feel like it’s a waste of money.”
Honey said the swipes students end up not using go strictly towards funding the dining halls.
“Dining Services is funded solely by meal plan sales and cash or credit sales at each location,” Honey said. “We receive no tuition money, student fees or state funding.”
Barron said she probably won’t get a meal plan next semester, and wishes her unused swipes would be reimbursed.
“I would like (my) money (back).” Barron said. “I’m being reimbursed nowhere.”