Union’s Dining Policies, Part 1: The 411 on meal plans, declining balance

Allyson Bennett, News Editor

Concordiensis sat down with Tim Forte, the Director of Hospitality, and Matt Milless, the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, to discuss the College’s dining policies and why they exist. 

Union has six meal plan options to choose from, which have varying numbers of meal swipes and declining balances. Meal swipes can be used at West Dining Hall, Upper Dining Hall,

Dutch Hollow, the Rathskeller, the Market, and the Garlic Nott. Declining balance is similar to U.S. dollars and can be used for food items at the Bookstore, Dutch Hollow, the 807 Deli, the Garlic Nott, the Rathskeller, the Starbucks, the Market, and the College Park Hall Kiosk. Current meal plan options range from an infinite number of meal swipes per week and $0 in declining balance, to 30 meal swipes per term and $750 in declining balance. If students want to change meal plans, they can do so in the first two weeks of the term by going to Reamer 202 or emailing Forte at [email protected]

Students can add money to declining balance funds, but not add meal swipes. This is because meal swipes are not equitable to U.S. dollars, because it is part of Union’s comprehensive fee. Community members can use U.S. dollars to purchase items at the same locations students can use declining balance.First-year students can enroll in two plans for the fall term: one with unlimited meal swipes with $0 in declining balance, or the one with 15 meal swipes per week with $250 in declining balance.This year, due student feedback, hospitality services allowed first-year students to change into any meal plan option in the winter term; previously, they could only change to the 12 meal swipe, $350 declining option in the spring term.

Four locations on campus allow students to use both meal swipes and declining balance: Dutch Hollow, the Rathskeller, the Market, and the Garlic Nott. These locations were chosen based on student feedback; during previous years, there were two locations that allowed meal swipes, the Garlic Nott and the Market. Vegetarian and vegan students told Hospitality services that they would like to see more options for them on campus; as a result, this year Hospitality services added the Energize U station at Dutch Hollow, where students can get a vegan bowl, a side, a fountain drink, and a dessert for a meal swipe. When the Rathskeller re-opened in the fall term, Hospitality services allowed students to get an entree, a side, a beverage, and a dessert or an entree, side and a milkshake.

Certain options, such as sandwiches and salads at the 807 Deli, or the sushi and Dutch wraps at Dutch Hollow, cost declining balance instead of meal swipes. This is because of the popularity of Reamer Campus Center at common hour, according to Forte. If these items were on meal swipes, then dining staff would never be able to keep up with demand. In addition, the owner of the Ushi Sushi, Si Thu, owns his own business and is not employed in the same way as other dining staff; he needs to receive the declining funds from students purchasing individual sushi packages.

It is important to note that Union’s Hospitality services are always open to feedback and change. Not every idea is feasible, for example, lobster is expensive and Union cannot financially support it if it is permanently on campus. However, Hospitality services values changes if they are feasible, such as creating Energize U. In order to provide feedback on dining services or policies, students can email [email protected] to get in touch with Forte, the Director of Hospitality, or scan the “Text a Manager” QR code around Reamer Campus Center to send a message.

In the second part of this series, Concordiensis will compare the prices of items at Dutch Hollow and the 807 Deli to the prices of similar items at off-campus restaurants such as Starbucks and Alltown Fresh.