Akron's meal plan: leaving us hungry?

Written by: Gabrielle Glandorf

According to UA Dining Services, “Residence hall students are required to participate in the University dining plan options.” For most people, this just means selecting a dining plan during the spring and forgetting about it until the next semester starts. No one really stops to think about what the meal plan actually pays for.

What does it pay for? Yes, it covers the cost of food, but does it cover more? According to my calculations, there is a large gap in the price you pay for your meal plan and the amount of money you actually receive to spend on food.

This is most evident with the “Gold Plan,” which gives you $96 per week to be used at many places both on- and off-campus. This sounds like a great setup—that is, until you look into it further.

According to the University’s “Dining Plan Options and Cost” website, “With this option, you will receive $1,517 in Dining Dollars per semester.” But this meal plan costs $2,041 per semester, so for the whole academic year, $1,048 goes unaccounted for.

This is the most conspicuous example, but inconsistencies like these show up in all of Akron’s meal plans. Even the “300 Townhouse” meal plan, which supplies the student with only $300 per semester, has $22 per year that go unaccounted for.

So where is this extra money going? If you’ve ever been stuck in line at Chipotle while a frustrated employee tries for the 20th time to scan your card, you know it’s not going to keep up our card readers. This problem is also prevalent at Trackside from time to time, and that’s an on-campus restaurant!

Is the money going toward the dining staff and building upkeep in our eateries? I honestly doubt it.

The price we pay for food more than covers what would be needed to both pay the staff and keep up our eateries. Think about the food you typically get at Rob’s for lunch. If you were to buy it yourself, would it really cost over $8? Just like any restaurant, the University of Akron sets food prices high enough to compensate for the cost of the building, food, workers and to still make a profit.

So, University of Akron, I have one question for you: Where is my money?