By Cole Caviston, Staff Writer
The new meal plan implemented by Dining Services for the 2014-2015 academic year has excluded the 10 percent off discount for customers using Dining Dollars.
The discount was originally a part of every purchase made using Dining Dollars at campus dining halls and retail stores. It carried a Dining Dollar balance for an entire academic year up until May.
Jon Plodzik, the director of Dining Services, said the decision was based on input from research conducted the previous year that examined the components of the meal plan that were most valued by visitors.
“The discount, while a nice benefit, was less valuable in the purchase decision and posed a financial impact to the program,” Plodzik said.
Instead, the research found that Meals to Go, Meal Exchange Plans and Guest Passes were valued as “extremely desirable” among consumers.
In response, Dining Services decided to alter the meal plans to include more of the valued items, as well as an additional Dining Dollars incentive for those who have purchased Campus and Premier plans. The added incentive is an additional five percent increase of Dining Dollars at no extra cost.
Under the changed meal plans introduced this fall, customers are allowed to eat at any dining hall during regular hours for as many times as they desire throughout the semester. To-go meals, dining dollar amounts and guest passes differ among the plans.
The Premier Plan and the Campus Plan each cost $2,425 and $2,259, respectively. For the Premier Plan, the cost of Dining Dollars is $500 and offers about 32 Meal to Go/Exchange holders and 10 Guest passes. The Campus Plan is lesser, with a Dining Dollars cost of $325, 16 Meals to Go/Exchange plans and six Guest passes.
The Core Meal Plan, which does not include Dining Dollars, offers two Guest Passes and six Meal to Go/Exchange plans and costs $1,950.
According to Plodzik, the feedback from the student body has been positive, and there has been an impressive amount of purchases for the new plan.
“We have sold a record number of meal plans so far this semester—over 10,600—which I believe is an indication of the value and quality of our dining program represents to the campus,” Plodzik said. “As suspected, the additional Guest Passes, Meals to Go/Meal Exchanges and additional Dining Dollars on the middle as well as the upper plans are seen as valuable additions to our offerings.”
For Dining Services, an unlimited dining plan isn’t clear-cut; they must estimate the cost of buying food and paying for operations.
These decisions are themselves based on the amount of food consumed per day and the prices for food products.
“The changes in the meal plans implemented this year reduce the Dining Dollar discount expense dining was absorbing as part of the previous offering by $100,000,” Plodzik said.
The student body, however, has not wholly embraced this change. There are students that are surprised by the move and feel that their own dining habits have been forced to change because of it.
Sophomore Olivia Keefe liked that the discount was available on a daily basis, as opposed to the limited amount of days and hours of the UNH Dining Swipe Plan, which made it inconvenient for her.
“If it was either/or, I’d rather have the 10 percent because I feel like I used that more than the [Dining Swipe Plans],” Keefe said.
Duncan Taylor, a graduate student, lives off campus and made use of the discount extensively.
“I usually used it for breakfast and used it to buy ten meals and get an eleventh free,” Taylor said. “Now I am not using HoCo as much.”