Martha Hrdy

Martha’s illustration for Mary’s article about meal plans.

Stop requiring meal plans for on-campus students

April 4, 2022

I pay thousands of dollars for a meal plan I know I don’t need.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice.

UVM requires all on-campus students to purchase a meal plan, according to the 2021-22 ResLife Housing and Meal Plan Contract.

The least expensive plans cost $2,284 per semester, according to the ResLife website.

I know my eating habits and preferences better than anyone, and I know I could enjoy my food more and save money if UVM did not require on-campus students to purchase meal plans.

Per semester, the unlimited access plan offers unlimited meal swipes and 150 points, the retail points plan offers 1,450 points and 25 meal swipes and the flex plan offers 160 meal swipes and 900 points, according to the 2021-22 ResLife Housing and Meal Plan Contract.

If I splurged on groceries weekly with $100, I would spend $1,500 for one semester of groceries.

Even more likely, if I spent $75 each week, my semesterly total would amount to $1,125, saving $1,159 compared to the cheapest meal plan.

Saving this amount could help me pay off my student loans or buy a plane ticket home for winter break.

I could buy groceries now and eat the way I want to, but then I would be wasting thousands of dollars on my meal plan.

While I don’t have a stove or oven in my room, I can prepare easy and healthy meals.

My building also has a kitchen, so I could make meals requiring more than a microwave if I wanted to.

With simple ingredients, I can make cinnamon apple oatmeal, sandwiches or soups right in my dorm room.

Lifting the meal plan requirement would better prepare students for life outside of the dorms.

Purchasing and preparing their own food allows students to practice budgeting as well as learning essential life skills.

Access to meal plans for on-campus students is essential, but mandating the purchase of meal plans limits students’ opportunities to eat how they want to, what they want to and when they want to.

UVM should remove the meal plan requirement and give on-campus students control over their food situation to help create a happier and healthier campus experience.

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