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Why do some schools have mandatory meal plans?

November 30th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Whats the rationale? Do they think you won’t eat unless forced to (the money you pay at the beginning of the year is a sunk cost, so it makes the meals you get effectively free, although you’re still out $3,000 or so for th year)

Is it nothing more than a hidden tuition increase?

I did the math and my meal plan comes out to about $8/meal. This is ridiculous. You can eat out and get better quality food for less than $8.

It isn’t a hidden tuition increase, but the reason is almost undoubtedly economic. Most colleges contract with outside companies to provide their foodservice. The more students there are on the meal plan, the more of a quantity discount is offered to the university by the outside food company. Thus, the fewer students who sign up for the meal plan, the higher the cost has to be for the students who remain on the meal plan. Thus, in order to be able to secure decent foodservice rates, some schools (especially those with limited numbers of resident students) require the meal plan.

Know that it is unfair to compare campus meal services and restaurants, because a restaurant can always attract another patron if it loses one. A campus foodservice is limited to those on campus who participate in its programs. If only 5% of students sign up for the meal plan, they can’t look to other audiences to spread out their fixed costs.

You also need to realize that although you could undoubtedly find cheaper food elsewhere, the likelihood that you would be able to get off campus repeatedly for this food, unless your school is a terribly urban campus in the middle of an affordable restaurant district, is poor. My school is in the middle of a city, but to get off campus to get something to eat in the middle of the day, find something to eat, and get back on campus (including re-parking a vehicle) can take a couple of hours. I hate our school’s food, and often bring in lunch, but I would not dream of going off-campus to eat because of the time it would waste.

  1. neniaf
    November 30th, 2012 at 16:57 | #1

    It isn’t a hidden tuition increase, but the reason is almost undoubtedly economic. Most colleges contract with outside companies to provide their foodservice. The more students there are on the meal plan, the more of a quantity discount is offered to the university by the outside food company. Thus, the fewer students who sign up for the meal plan, the higher the cost has to be for the students who remain on the meal plan. Thus, in order to be able to secure decent foodservice rates, some schools (especially those with limited numbers of resident students) require the meal plan.

    Know that it is unfair to compare campus meal services and restaurants, because a restaurant can always attract another patron if it loses one. A campus foodservice is limited to those on campus who participate in its programs. If only 5% of students sign up for the meal plan, they can’t look to other audiences to spread out their fixed costs.

    You also need to realize that although you could undoubtedly find cheaper food elsewhere, the likelihood that you would be able to get off campus repeatedly for this food, unless your school is a terribly urban campus in the middle of an affordable restaurant district, is poor. My school is in the middle of a city, but to get off campus to get something to eat in the middle of the day, find something to eat, and get back on campus (including re-parking a vehicle) can take a couple of hours. I hate our school’s food, and often bring in lunch, but I would not dream of going off-campus to eat because of the time it would waste.
    References :

  2. Earl D
    November 30th, 2012 at 17:45 | #2

    No you can’t. Where you going. I’ll admit, it might be BETTER, but cheaper!

    What you talking the $1 menu. A double Cheese Burger and water.

    A Big Mac Meal with tax is $6+ and you have to GO there, that’s gas in a car or walking 20 minutes each way. What’s you’re time worth.

    Are the school meals EAT ALL YOU WANT or Army Ration portions.

    If so you’re talking buffet. That’s $8 anywhere and just as bad.

    A fish dinner at Red Robins is $12.50 plus tip

    A small little steak at Applebees is $16.50 plus tip

    A subway Meal Deal is $5.00. That’s 4 ounces of meat, some bread, veggies, chips and medium drink.

    Their Philly Cheese Steak with drink is $7.50

    What’s a Chicken Burrito plate at Alcalpulco’s run $8.95.

    Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast might still be $4 or $5 but they charge you $1.50 for coffee.

    And yo have to tip the waitress.

    I had a small steak (about $1.25) some augratin potatoes ($1.50 a box) and I needed some milk to put into it ($1 just to have a carton around) some Ketchup for the steak ($2 a bottle just to have around), some salt and pepper for it ($2).

    That’s an $8 investment to make it my self and I have to do the dishes.

    Yeah you can amortize it if your stuff doesn’t rott and it comes out to $3 not including drink but you have to cook it for half and hour and clean dishes and buy the stuff once a month.

    I got to the supermarket for a week and it’s $50.

    One tomatoe is $2

    One organe or grapefruit is $1

    An Onion is 50 cents

    A bell pepper is almost $1.50

    I’ll get Salad for 3 days if it don’t rot for $6 or $8 (that’s $2 a day) vs the supermarket salad bar at $5 per pound.

    Now you want a salad, a chop, some potatoes and desert even at home that’s an effect $10 investment that can be amortized but it’s still $5 for the meal and you have to keep that stuff and buy it in bulk periodically.

    At school you go in, get a tray, put stuff on it, eat and throw it into a bin when you’re done.

    Instant Gratification.

    you know you havel to wait half an hour at Dennys
    References :

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