Keene State College currently offers plans with weekly meal allowances of five, 12 or 19 meals per week, which are redeemable at the Zorn Dining Commons, Hoot n’ Scoot and the Night Owl Cafe.
However, according to DC General Manager Josef Quirinale, KSC will enact two major changes next fall
First, the college’s largest plan offered, 19 meals per week, will be replaced by an “Ultimate Plan.” The Ultimate Plan will grant students unlimited access to the DC during the hours of operation. With this plan use of the Hoot n’ Scoot and
NOC will be limited to five meals per week.
Meal Plan Dollars (formerly titled Flex), which can be added to any meal plan, are food credits measured in dollars and cents redeemable with an Owl Card in Lloyd’s Market Place, The Bean & Bagel, and all previously mentioned dining facilities.
In the 2011-2012 school year, students who chose to include Meal Plan Dollars purchased a $150 block of credit, but this year it changed to $175, and next year students who want Meal Plan Dollars will have a choice of $175 or $275 per semester if they select the 12 meal or Ultimate Plan.
Quirinale said the Ultimate Plan will have a price tag of $1,559 per semester, which is the same rate as the current 19 meal plan with Meal Plan Dollars.
The Ultimate Plan with Meal Plan Dollars added will equal $1,734.
Quirinale explained the inspiration for the Ultimate Plan came from the students themselves. “Students had voiced their opinion to me many times that they were basically unhappy with the meal plan; that they would like to be able to come into the dining commons any time they like,” Quirinale said.
In the past, Quirinale has worked for The University of Vermont as an Operations Manager, and at Plattsburgh State as General Manager. He said both schools had similar dining plans and they worked successfully.
“There’s a lot of freedom with this type of plan because it means that the student can come in at any time for just a glass of milk or a bagel or a cup of coffee”, Quirinale said.
He explained that, “The idea of a resident dining facility is all you care to eat while you’re there, and when you limit that to a certain amount of meals its very confining because then you’re tempted to eat a lot and take advantage of everything you can while you’re there.”
Rebecca Briggs, KSC’s registered dietitian, said she thinks some students might overindulge just because they can, or want to feel like they’re maximizing their meal plan. The expert said she believes the majority of KSC students will use it appropriately to snack when they need to and consume full meals when they have the time.
“I know that from conversations I’ve been involved with, if you were to compare our meal plan value to other campuses that truly there is a tremendous value that Keene State [College] students get,” Briggs said.
“College students are super busy and the convenience of being able to grab a little something when you need is probably going to be a big selling point,” she added.
Freshman James Attridge, who currently has a 12 meal plan, said with the Unlimited Plan becoming available he might consider upgrading.
He said there’s been times when his friends were going to eat but he had already used all his swipes, and unlimited access would be beneficial for social interactions among students in addition to the increased access to the food.
The second meal plan option getting a makeover will be the smallest. It will change from five meals per week to 120 meals per semester, which is equal to eight meals per week.
The students can use these meals at any time they want throughout the semester. For instance if a student were to go home for the weekend or be away from campus for any period of time, the unused meals wouldn’t expire Saturday night as they do under current plans.
That student would be able to redeem the meals at any point in the semester, and if they hadn’t made use of every one by the end of the fall, they would roll over into the spring.
The 120 meal plan will cost $1,074, or $1,114 with $40 worth of Meal Plan Dollars.
Additionally if students run out of meals, they can purchase more in blocks of 40. The 120 meals per semester will be a little less expensive per meal than the 5 meal plan.
However, now the least expensive plan available will be over a thousand dollars, whereas the 5 meals per week currently costs $561 per semester.
However, for some students it’s not the cost but the payment method that’s the problem. Commuter student Mylynda Gill said despite being on campus five days a week she decided not to purchase a meal plan because it makes more economical sense for her to purchase food day by day rather than dropping over $1,000 up front at the start of the semester.
According to the University of New Hampshire’s website, students pay $1,837 per semester for an anytime meal plan with no dining dollars (compared to $1,559 at KSC).
Next fall if a KSC student with the Ultimate Meal Plan were to eat three times per day every day, each meal would cost $4.90.
Quirinale said, “I challenge anybody to go anywhere in Keene, or anywhere for that matter, and pay $4.90 and get all you care to eat; it’s pretty astounding.” He added you can’t buy a complete breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts for that price, or a lunch at McDonalds, never mind having the freedom to get seconds.
Eric Walker can be contacted at email@example.com