Campus News

On campus dining options leave students frustrated

UH System Dining Services donated left-over food from the Couger Woods Dining Hall to charity, but uneaten food that has already been exposed to the consumer is thrown away by the end of the day. | Carolina Trevino/The Daily Cougar

Fresh Foods Company and Cougar Woods are the only two dining halls on campus and are run by UH Auxiliary Services.

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.”

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  • So all this is over students either not reading the conditions of their meal plans properly or not using it as often as they thought. How is this a story? The University provides a service for the students and now you want to publicize their complaints because they did not properly take advantage of the service. One thing I do know from being on campus myself is there are very few colleges in the nation with such a great deal and food service options 24 hours a day.

  • Well said Russell. What is there to complain about. The dining options at UH are impressive and better or as good as you will find anywhere in the nation. The only frustration is the students didn’t seem to do any research on what the plan actually is or think about how much they would really use it. But yeah let’s go ahead and blame the school

  • While the average American diet can be accommodated at UH, and discussion of its healthfulness will not be held in this post, there is no option for some special diets. A celiac who eats vegetarian has only the Bare Bowls food truck currently. How would requiring a meal plan be an appropriate choice in such an instance?
    This very real situation has caused a family member, who has many college options, to eschew UH, as well as some Ivy Leagues, because four years of salad bar is insufferable.

      • Yes, but some people like to think that veg*ns eat everything topped with vegetables or faux/ “veggie” burgers, and personally, those are disgusting.

        Also, only an iota of those veg*n foods are actually vegan (compared to vegetarian).

  • Might I just say that the problem isn’t students not taking advantage of their meal plans. We certainly try to. The real problem is:
    1. We are required to have meal plans to stay on campus. And before you say (“then don’t live on campus”) next year it will be required for all freshman to stay on campus which means they will all need meal plans. And realistically, there is a growing number of out of state/hours away/international students coming to our school, and they all of course live on campus.

    2. The food they serve in fresh foods is often under cooked, overcooked, or just plain nasty. The staff is often rude, even when you are always nice and respectful to them, and the dishes (especially cups and silver ware) are often dirty or funky smelling. I got completely raw chicken served to me once. I mean barely thawed chicken. It was completely pink, and very very cold. I was upset because they put it in my to go box, and it contaminated the rest of my food.

    3. Lets not forget the fact that you will always have to check your food for bugs and other foreign objects. I have found flies, hair, and mystery things in my food over the past 3 years. But my meal plan is required so of course i’m going to use it.

    I will say the hours the dining halls are open are nice, and there are some very rare days when the food is actually good and not just edible. Plus i don’t have to cook it myself, though i much rather would in a way. Plus there are some staff members who really are nice people. but i don’t think meal plans should be required.

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