Student meal plan takes $1,140 cut

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WIU.EDU

The UHDS website provides a weekly breakdown for students.

Rachel Greene, Editor-in-chief

As of the Fall 2020 semester, the meal plan at Western Illinois University has drastically changed. The plan has transformed from retail pricing to residential pricing, meaning it is now geared towards the dining options in the residence halls as the primary component, with all other options as luxuries.

In Fall 2019, the basic meal plan, which is the minimum plan required for all students living on campus, was a $1,900 plan. This year, the plan has been cut down by more than half to a mere $760. These changes have aeady been made on STARS and are reflected in student meal plan balances.

When asked about changes to the meal plan, many students replied with answers along the lines of, “What changes?” but others, like sophomore student Caitlyn McClain, were aware of the new details of the plan.

McClain, a current resident on campus, said, “This plan does not make sense to me. Now, you are not going to be refunded a portion of the money you do not spend. In addition, the amount of money in the plan was drastically reduced, whereas the cost of the dining hall food is still not low enough. The plan allows for most of my meals to be around $7, while in reality, they are usually $10 if I get sides and a drink. I understand that the dining halls want more people to spend their money there, but this limits the options of students in general. Also, many students are not aware of the change and they may spend their money quickly without even knowing what they are doing.”

Perhaps the most significant impact the meal plan alterations will have will be on students’ purchases in the University Union. While the cost of the food in the dining halls has gone down in accordance with the meal plan, the food in the Union remains the same as it was when the plan was much larger. A standard meal in the Union will now cost about four times as much as a Sodexo meal. This means if students opt to eat in the Union at Chick-fil-A or Einstein’s Bros Bagels for more than a few meals a week, their meal plan will likely not last the semester. It is apparent by the lines in the Union over the past few days that this change is not yet deterring students from getting their fast food fix in between classes.

While the change is available on the University website for anyone to view, there was also an email sent out directly to students living on campus this semester.

The email from University Housing and Dining Services reads, “Western Illinois University Dining Services recently went through a dining contract update. You will notice some changes to the new meal plan and we have highlighted the most frequently asked questions on our website.”

The question remains of whether or not these meal plan changes will remain in place or will be reverted for next semester, as well as if students have read their emails diligently enough to be aware of the alterations.