UVM Dining Services plans to make changes to meal plans

After fifteen years, UVM Dining Services has decided to make changes to the meal plan options, Melissa Zelazny, General Manager of Dining Services, said.

Zelazny has been hard at work establishing changes to the University’s meal plan with a task force established last year to review the dining options on campus and to update the meal plan options.

“It is our goal to create a meal plan that supports the current dining infrastructure without removing any more of its facets,” said Lauren Abda, chair of the student action committee on SGA.

According to an email from Zelazny, students felt the four main aspects they were looking for in their meal plan was affordability, convenience, ease of use, and healthy food options.

When asked how she picked her meal plan, student Laura Andrew said since she couldn’t afford carte blanche, the middle option with points and blocks seemed most logical.

In order to keep prices more affordable, Dining Services offers up to a 20% incentive on additions of meal plan points to students’ plans.

Weekend hours in Simpson and Cook Commons have now been reduced; however, to compensate this change, hours in the University Marché and Brennan’s have been expanded, as well as new late night options offered with Brennan’s, Simpson Store, and University Marché.

The pizza for points program has been eliminated after 7:00 pm. Zelazny said one of the main reasons students were running out of points during the semester was due to the pizza for points program, as students spent up to $20,000 per week on pizza after Thanksgiving.

According to Zelazny, pizza will still be offered in a majority of dining locations, and students can still utilize Cat$cratch at participating pizza locations.

Because students feel the inability to take food out of dining halls is an inconvenience, a Take Five option has successfully been launched at Harris Millis, and hopefully will become an addition to Simpson and Cook Commons.

“I understand why they don’t allow it, but I don’t like not being able to take food out of dining halls. Personally, I’d love to take out the food and just chill on the green,” student Brittney Heeren said.

Take Five is a resident take-out program where students can select one entrée, one beverage and complete their meal with sides, baked goods or dessert for a total of five items.

Students have requested there be a late night resident option, which is being considered.

New World Tortilla, Ben and Jerry’s, and Sakura Bana have been recently added to campus and students can utilize meal points with them.

As kosher dining seems to be becoming more desirable, a Kosher Korner will be created at the Davis Center, and a Kosher Kitchen is being considered for Simpson. Also, dining services has been working with STAR (Students for True Animal Rights) to expand cage-free eggs across campus.

“Students at UVM recognize, whether they are from Vermont or not, the rich food culture that surrounds this state and they want that incorporated into their dining experience on campus,” Abda said.

According to Abda, while students are constantly requesting more eco-friendly flatware, local produce, cage-free eggs, and kosher meals on top of new dining facilities, extended service hours, and special point programs affiliated with outside vendors, they must realize that all of this comes at a cost that can no longer be absorbed by the University.

The Meal Plan Task Force will reconvene Sept. 17 to continue our conversation surrounding the meal plan and how it can better meet the needs of the students. Jay Taylor was unavailable for comment.