SGA proposes new meal plan changes

Recently, The Student Government Association (SGA) passed a bill in support of changing UVM’s current meal plan for the 2009-2010 school year. In order to balance the increases in tuition and room rate each year, the price of the meal plan has remained the same. Because of this, UVM has one of the lowest average meal plan costs in comparison: approximately 33 percent lower than other schools. “We shouldn’t have done that to you,” Assistant Vice President of Student and Campus Life Annie Stevens said. In the fall of 2007, Stevens created a task force specifically designed to change the current meal plan. “What we realized was that while the University had been changing dining on campus over the past 15 years (by) adding new locations, incorporating new options, etc.,” SGA and task force member Lauren Abda said in an e-mail. “The meal plan never evolved to make these changes more accessible under the cur?rent plans.” The new proposed meal plan would eliminate the use of the current Block meal plan structure and switch to a Carte Blanche meal plan structure, with a varying amount of points to distinguish the various plans.The various dining halls around campus would expand their hours of operation, as well as implement take-out options in every complex. The meal plan would also include measures that lead to alternative packaging in the take out options at the residential dining complexes, a measure which was imputed by a student petition by UVM student Marlee Baron. “I personally know people that choose to eat in dining halls – because they generate less packaging waste – but I can’t say it’s a majority,” Baron said. “However, I think people subconsciously appreciate it.” The new meal plan would also allow for the implementation of past legislation regarding the use of cage free-eggs in all dining venues, an increase in local foods, and an increase in Fair Trade Coffee, as well as an implementation of a Kosher dining option in the 2010 – 2011 year. According to the bill for the new meal plan, the retail space available in the Dudley H. Davis Center, currently occupied by Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, will be re-evaluated and possibly used for another local vendor to better accommodate students needs. While many students feel this would be a good location for an on-campus pizza location, this idea is not guaranteed. However, the new meal plan structure would allow the meal plan task force to consider creating an on-campus pizza location available for students beginning in the 2010-2011 academic year. Regardless of any changes made to the meal plan, the price of the plan would increase by 7 percent due to inflation. If the newly proposed meal plan was to be put in place, the price would only increase by 2 percent more, roughly $55 per student, per year. “This $55 increase constitutes the difference between cutting back on dining facilities, hours of operation and additional pro?grams and expanding hours of operation, expanding programs, and expanding food quality,” Abda said. “Even with the 9 percent total increase, UVM’s average meal plan will still remain among the lowest,” Stevens said. When asked about the quality of the food, Stevens responded that the chicken served at Brennan’s versus the chicken served in regular dining halls are the same, just cooked differently. Although many students believe Sodexho prepares the food with laxatives, Stevens said these are just rumors. “The things that cause what laxatives cause are from not getting a lot of sleep, eating late at night, a lot of cheese and greasy food … basically the college students lifestyle,” Stevens said. “I think it is important to remain mindful that the legislation passed through the SGA only demonstrates student support of the proposed changes to the meal plan. The Board of Trustees still has to approve this before it can be implemented,” Abda said.