The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

New meal plans work

Danielle Ryan

I’ll admit it; I was one of them.

Last spring when the university announced details of the meal plans for the next school year, I was one of many upset students.

I was a critic. I was a complainer. I liked the plans the way they were and couldn’t understand why we needed a change. Specifically, a change that would bring more expensive plans and seemingly limit my dining options.

But after this year, I have slowly grown to like, and even appreciate, the meal plans offered by the university.

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Now, I can’t even imagine returning to the old plans.

Last year, I went with the seven-meal plan. I received seven meals a week and more declining than I knew what to do with.

I frequently went home on the weekends and always had my bowl of cereal in the mornings. Seven meals a week, with the help of some frozen TV dinners, worked for me.

Or so I thought.

But with the unlimited-access-based meal plans now, I don’t have to make late-night runs to Hilltop to use up extra meals that will not transfer from week to week.

I never have to decline an invitation to dine with friends because it would leave me without enough meals to last the rest of the week.

And, at the end of this year, I won’t be scrambling to use up over $300 worth of declining on junk food.

Perhaps one of the best benefits of the new meal plans is how they make up for the shortcomings of the old plans.

The increased cost hasn’t made as much of an impact as I imagined either.

To overcome the increased expense, I’ve learned to enjoy the advantages of all-access.

Thirsty after trudging up the hill? Fill a to-go glass of soda on the way to the dorms. Need a break from studying? Grab a cookie from the caf. Ready for an early-morning cereal fix? A wide selection is ready and waiting at your local cafeteria.

Before I start to sound too much like an infomercial, let me point out the current meal plans are not without flaws.

I fondly recall transfer meals that added variety to the dining options, and the new plans’ impact on Hilltop’s hours of operation leaves much to be desired.

While the take-out boxes are handy, the policy also allows people to sneak out extra food. And perhaps the biggest detractor of all is the monotony that accompanies eating in the caf several times a day.

But students have a lot more freedom with this meal plan. With the All-Access plan, they can go in and out of the caf as many times as they please and still have an adequate amount of declining to spend.

If they prefer more declining dollars, they can get the Blugold-Preferred plan.

And, if none of these options work, students can stick with the traditional Declining Balance plan. In a time where many feel the university is limiting options, this greater freedom should be appreciated.

Overall, the new meal plans’ benefits outweigh the costs.

With some minor tweaking to account for their problems, they are options everyone could grow to like.

Allowing unlimited access to the cafeterias was certainly a bold move for the university, but one I feel has had a positive impact.

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New meal plans work